The number of endangered leatherback turtles that crawled ashore to nest doubled during the 2005-06 nesting season in Playa Grande, on the Pacific northwestern Guanacaste province, according a statement released by the Center of Tropical Science (CCT) Tuesday.
In Playa Grande, the main Pacific site in the world where these turtles nest, 107 leatherbacks were recorded to have arrived this season, which lasted from Oct. 1, 2005, to March 15; this is 55 more than during the 2004-05 season. This year in Playa Grande, scientists counted 481 nests and another 100 in Playa Langosta, both of which are located in Las Baulas National Marine Park.
The leatherback, which is the largest marine turtle in the world and grows as long as two meters and weighs as much as 900 kilograms, is in danger of extinction in the Pacific, where an estimated 2,500 females remain, compared to 91,000 females in 1980.
Las Baulas National Marine Park Director Rodney Piedra said the arrival of more turtles is the most positive accomplishment the work of development institutionshas had on conservation in the area.
The park comprises 73 hectares of land and 20,000 hectares of ocean.
The leatherback s natural habitat is threatened by various factors, including human fishing activity, the El Niño weather phenomenon, pollution, last year and illumination of beaches.
Costa Rican fishermen s associations and environmental organizations last year renewed efforts to halt fishing practices that kill sea turtles, including the use of turtleexcluder devices (TT, March 4, 2005).