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Nearly 30,000 leatherback turtles to be released in Moín

Around 30,000 leatherback turtles will be released this year in Moín, Limón, as a result of the work carried out by APM Terminals Moín’s Turtle Conservation Program. The hatchery, where the eggs are kept, already has more than 300 broods.

The Turtle Conservation Program began in 2015 as part of the Environmental Management Plan (PGA) and is now part of APM Terminals Moin’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy and includes the protection of sea turtle eggs and the release of newborns, on the stretch of beach running from the mouth of the Moín River to the mouth of the Matina River.

In 2015, it was determined that to achieve the proposed objectives the authorities of the Costa Rican State would need to be involved to provide support, each in their areas of competence. For this reason, APM Terminals works in partnership with the Latin American Sea Turtles Association (LAST), which oversees the technical-scientific part of the project, the Public Force, and the Coast Guard Service, for night patrols and has the support of the OIJ in addition to ACLAC-SINAC, which issues permits for the turtle project.

"We have managed to create a synergy between different governmental and non-governmental organizations,” commented Krizia Cantón, Coordinator of Sustainability-CSR, at APM Terminals Moín. “This guarantees the sustainability of the project and generates awareness about caring for the environment and the community’s well-being. This is why the sea turtle conservation project is a key pillar of our Social Responsibility goals.”

Every night, between 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. the following day, patrols are carried out along 15 km of beach, to look for the turtles that come to nest and collect the largest number of clutches. These are then transported to the hatchery and their hatchlings are released at nightfall (to avoid daytime predators), which increases survival and reduces mortality, giving the species more opportunity to recover. This stretch of beach is the largest leatherback turtle nesting site in the Costa Rican Caribbean.

Once members of the protection program find the nests, they place them in thermal boxes to transfer them to the hatchery, where they are incubated under ideal conditions of humidity, temperature, handling and fertility, variables that increase hatching success from just 22% in nature, to more than 70%.

“The survival of these species generates resources for ecotourism, but also allows the species to continue with its natural role in the marine ecosystems of the region,” commented Didier Chacón (Biologist-LAST). “We see Moín as an ecotourism destination like Tortuguero, but we must move towards improving security and information, as well as more people, and institutions working to the north. In a decade this project will potentially be the best known and most visited by the people of Limon.”

APM Terminals Moín provides a budget that allows the hiring of technical, administrative, and beach patrol personnel, for environmental education and nursery management during the nesting season and school visits.

The rescue program also seeks to instill in the locals and communities in general the importance of not consuming turtle meat or eggs. It encourages, neighbors, different communities, students, employees of APM Terminals and other institutions to protect this at-risk species, through environmental fairs, talks and the release of baby turtles.