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Protecting one and a half million baby turtles

News from Nicaragua | Friday, 25 July 2014 |

Every year from August until January over 100,000 endangered Oliver Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. As the seaside town of San Juan del Sur awaits their arrival, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA), local people and the Army are preparing to protect the turtles from illegal turtle egg poaching. It is estimated that, on all of Nicaragua’s protected nesting locations including La Flor, Chacocente, Juan Venado, Poneloya and Padre Ramos, a total of 1.47 million baby turtles hatched last year.

One group of women, who used to illegally harvest turtle eggs, have turned to a new way to make money since understanding that poaching eggs risked extinction for the endangered turtles. They now collect and recycle plastic bags that litter the beaches. The plastic bags, which asphyxiate baby turtles, are sent to a recycling centre where they are cleaned and processed into thread which the women use to make earrings, bracelets, handbags and belts to sell to tourists.