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History of the Sea Turtle Project in Parismina

The days of the turtle poachers are over! Photo of shell from dead sea turle found along the beach between Parismina and Tortuguero, Costa Rica

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The Changing Relationship with the Sea Turtle:


For centuries, the inhabitants of the Caribbean coast of Central America relied on meat from Sea Turtles to feed their families. Until this generation, the word meat meant turtle meat in the village of Parismina. Although the bounty of the sea provided for many generations, outsiders began streaming in to poach, taking the meat and eggs to sell illegally in urban markets. These outsiders contribute little to the economy of costal villages and make the beaches less safe for everyone. 

The best way to save the turtles of Parismina is to make the turtles more valuable alive than as dinner. Many locals have taken the time to get certified as tourist guides. Help save the turtles of Parismina by hiring a guide and visiting the Turtle Hatchery. Take the time to see this quaint village- well off the beaten tourist track.

 Inquires may be sent to webmaster@parismina.com.


Artist in Residence:

Turtle Association Member and beach patrol guide Jerry McKinley Cruz produces outstanding carved wooden sculptures which may be seen at various fishing lodges and other businesses in the area. You may also drop by Jerry's workshop to see Jerry's projects - ask around town to find him. Jerry is also known for his elaborate sand sculptures which have been featured from Parismina to Puerto Viejo.











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Read the original version in Spanish HERE.

"We began 7 years ago when economic and human resources were very limited. Some nights, when there were many turtles, we worked from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 A.M. and the sun would catch us loading the last eggs from turtle into the hatchery. One night some huevero (turtle hunter/nest robber) robbed a turtle and it hid it 100m back in the forest, easily found by the track left by the heavy turtle that had been flipped upside down and hauled off for later slaughter. Returning her to the sea was an odyssey for the flailing turtle, who was, by all means, very scared. Ignorant of the fact that we are trying to help, such turtles strike with their strong able fins and can break a finger and otherwise cause a considerable injury. The task is even more difficult, because whenever possible we do not wish to disturb or to stress and to hurt to the turtle while we release it. The process was slow, exhausting, dangerous because poisonous serpents also live in the forest near the ocean. When finally we arrived at the beach the flavor from the victory invaded to us and while the scared turtle almost flew towards the sea we congratulated it and complained against santa mother of the huevero but those are things of the life.

The first year was especially difficult for several reasons: first, it was necessary to fight for a severe change in the conduct of the people. For some people this is something we will be working on for many years to come. It is clear that a change in the conduct implies a change in the culture and still more in the mentality of people and this is a process that occurs with the passage of the years you dare of the education that is the best tool to eradicate ignorance and to wake up consciences.

Another challenge we faced was the inequality of the different sides (hueveros vs conservationists): for each person who worked in favor of the turtles it could have 3 or 4 against them. The first year neither the local hueveros nor those of bordering towns (most of the poachers come from out of town) waited for the presence of the coastguard vessels in Parismina, and for that reason threats for the turtles abounded. This inequality of sides had foundation: nobody wanted to go to patrol long hours exposing itself to problems with hueveros at night, from which we received some threats but nothing serious.

The people in this part of the world, as in any other, need to work for money and to maintain their family. To maintain a family was reason sufficient and the convincing argument not to do much by a project in which there was to work at night arduous and without remuneration. It was evident that serious money the average one to resolve our problem of personnel and step to by all means eradicate the egg poaching conduct of some people that is ridiculous to ask to him a person who lets consume a rich protein meat without offering anything to him in return. It is the law of the universe that the heart will not soften if the stomach feels such emptiness.

Half way through the first year we met some people interested in cooperating with a voluntary community service program and environmental education, also, we began to receive some volunteers of national universities and prepared things to receive several groups of students who besides to make contributions economic also contribute manual labor. The volunteers do the same. The change that this project of conservation has brought has been great on one hand, but the greatest thing is that we are helping to perpetuate one of the species that get passionate more to the lovers of the animals.

In addition, the economy of the inhabitants of Parismina to improved remarkably. Now people, specially the children can interact with people of very distant places and cultures very you destine and always there is something new that to learn and to teach.

Definitively everything has changed for good although it is still not ideal. We have far fewer hueveros than we did that first year and we are working on the educational part - specially, by influencing children who are more open to change. Today it is known that the money that comes from the groups of students and specially the volunteers is of fundamental importance since they are our economic support and its presence in the beach is vital with a roll of exhaustive patrolling.

It is motivating to know that there are people in the world worried about the conservation of environment. Knowledge that people are worried about this planet, our home, is stimulating and invites one to think that as humans we are not as atrocious as our conduct indicates. It is pretty to see cry to a boy by the happiness and the impression that causes to a marine turtle and its process to them of egg-laying. Seeing the tortuguitas emerge in one marathon towards the sea, and sometimes to swim with them was like payment for our work the first year.

When the tortuguitas began to hatch we knew that our sacrifice was being compensated and we felt like heroes, but today I think that we can do more,  and we will be able leave the inheritance of a worthy world to future generations. We are the only people in charge and it is up to each of us to put the hand on the heart and to do something to solve this environmental crisis. We can not forget that we are not strangers to this plot, and that on the contrary, we are part of the process.

The Sea Turtle Conservation Project of Parismina sends best wishes to all conscientious people willing to act."

~Jerry McKinley Cruz, December 2006


Parismina Social Club.
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Revised: September 16, 2007 .