By Claire Le Guern Lytle
Two decades on, an unusual project to stabilize the population of Olive Ridley sea turtles in the coastal town of Ostional on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula that led the Government to legally permit an exemption to the ban on harvesting sea turtle eggs, remains controversial.
The rationale for circumventing a global conservation effort is to sustainably maintain the local population of Olive Ridley sea turtle, while concurrently providing a consistent income stream for the economically challenged local community of Ostional who may harvest the turtle eggs from the beach to sell locally.
People on both sides of this contentious issue have observed that with this project the government of Costa Rica has in essence legalized poaching. Indeed, despite the vigorous defense of what is claimed to be a well-managed and officially sanctioned harvest by needy local people, critics abound. Even after twenty years, independent turtle authorities remain far from any universal agreement as to the scientific and economical basis for this project’s mission and its impact.
Four of the world’s seven species of marine turtles nest on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Pacific Green (Chelonia Mydas) or “Negra,” Leatherback (Dermochelys Coriacea) or “Baula” or “Canal,” Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) or “Carey,” and the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys Olivacea) or “Lora” or “Carpintera.” Olive ridleys get their name from the coloring of their heart-shaped shell, which starts out gray but becomes olive green once the turtles are adults. Forty-seven beaches on the Pacific coast have been identified as having turtle nesting activity.
The Olive Ridley turtles have been around a very long time, more than 100,000,000 years, are naturally very prolific and the most numerous of the seven existing species, with breeding beaches throughout the tropics, though it has, until recently, been considered “Endangered.” More....