A mass kidnapping on an idyllic beach in Costa Rica ended with happy endings – 736 of them.
Save more than 700 baby sea turtles from becoming ‘snacks’
Nearly 200 eggs were returned to their nests along the black sand beaches of Punta Banco, and more than half of the eggs had already hatched, according to local media. Newborn turtles made it into the ocean on Saturday.
Rescued sea turtles and their unhatched siblings continue to face a deadly challenge. Scientists estimate that the odds of baby sea turtles surviving to adulthood are 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 due to entanglement in nets, habitat destruction, pollution, poaching and climate change. This has made Costa Rica one of the most important refuges in the world, where sea turtles struggle to recover after centuries of exploitation.
Since the 1950s, the country has been a leader in sea turtle conservation, declaring major nesting beaches protected areas as well as retraining former fishermen as tour guides and researchers. Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are returning to lay their eggs on Costa Rica’s beaches, according to the Ocean Society. In Punta Banco, environmentalists, the coast guard and local residents have cooperated since 2004 to provide 24-hour protection to prevent eggs from reaching the black market, local media reported.
Earlier this year, Panama granted sea turtles the legal right to grow up in a healthy environment, part of a growing movement to give the animals legal protections usually reserved for humans. Advocates have used this newfound legal leverage to push for greater safeguards at a time when many species face significant environmental threats.