Pacific leatherback turtles are one of the most endangered populations of sea turtles worldwide, with a 90% drop in nesting numbers over the past two decades.While entanglement in fishing gear is the primary reason these turtles are dying, loss of nesting habitat is a major threat. Developers and conservationists in this region have long been at odds over hotels being built too close to the nesting beach; increased coastal development in this area would further threaten these beleaguered turtles. This development would also threaten an important turtle watching industry that brings people to this area to witness these giant reptiles lay their eggs.
SEE Turtles, working in partnership with Pretoma and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, has gained the support of 10 leading ecotourism operators (list below), who together represent thousands of visitors to the country and millions in spending. These forward thinking operators know that their business depends on protecting wildlife, travelers want to know their trips are helping to protect nature, not destroy it.
My first experience working with sea turtles was ten years ago on Playa Langosta, part of the national park. I witnessed first-hand how large hotels can affect nesting beaches, camping next to the Barcelo Langosta Resort as it was being built. The hotel destroyed mangroves, lit up the nesting beach, and brought people who trample the beach with no idea of its importance. If this change is allowed to take place, Las Baulas is destined for more of this kind of unsustainable tourism, which damages wildlife while providing minimal benefits for local communities.
To learn more about this situation, read the ezine "Voice of the Leatherback Turtle" on NatureAir's blog.
To express your support to maintain the protections of Las Baulas, click here.
Here's the full list of tour operators and travel non-profits who signed on: