Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday with the Tortuga

Holiday greetings from Nicaragua. On the Caribbean coast in a sleepy fishing town called Pearl Lagoon, inspiration thrives. Here, where green sea turtles are fished for food and have been for years, the Wildlife Conservation Society is making small but important gains. With the friendly people, the palm trees swaying, and the reggae beat riding the tropical breezes, it does not feel like the front lines for marine conservation.

The WCS has a two room office here on a dusty street, painted a refreshing pale blue. The brass gate in front has images of two turtles or tortuga, swimming on it. I stopped by today but like most places they have Christmas day off. But their pamphlets in English and Spanish are posted in every restaurant hut and store.

It looks like their program to compensate fishermen for live turtles, which are tagged and released, is working. Hopefully it's having a positive impact on the active but unsustainable turtle fishery here. The message of conservation, especially for the hawksbill, is out there. If I'm lucky, I'll have an opportunity to talk to and most importantly, thank those invovled with the program, those on the front lines fighting the good fight.

On the panga, or water taxi, out here from Bluefields, speeding through the back estuaries and openings in the jungle, I could not help imagine when the waters were filled with hundreds of thousands of sea turtles. It will never be that way again but it would be really sad if they were gone altogether.

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