San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

It’s Sad to See Rampant Turtle Egg Theft Here

Dear Nica Times:

Regarding the recent cover article, “Development Threatens Turtle Nesting” (NT, Dec. 5).

Today we drove an hour west from Managua to the fishing village ofLa Boquita, a lightly developed area on the Pacific coast.

We took a walk down a long deserted beach beyond a fresh-water river and saw a woman digging in the sand. We walked up and observed a large sea turtle perched over a deep hole in the sand, laying eggs.

The very darkly tanned woman wouldn’t respond to my daughter, but repeatedly plunged her arm up to the shoulder into the hole, gathering every slime-covered egg into her hand and transferring each into a bag.

She was literally stealing them out of the animal’s vaginal opening.

When the turtle was finished, the fortyish woman stood up.

She finally communicated that she was doing it for her father.

After the eggs ceased to emerge and the woman walked away, we stood watching the poor turtle cover up the empty hole and drag herself wearily back into the breaking waves. A very sad spectacle.

Back in the village, we spoke to many of the locals who enthusiastically confirmed that some of them ate the eggs during the nesting season.

Fatima, a young girl selling shell artifacts stated that the eggs are “rico.”

Later we tentatively identified the turtle as a green turtle, probably not the olive ridley depicted in your article Would better enforcement of environmental laws stop this kind of behavior? Is it just a lack of education that could prevent the decimation of these animals? Is the real culprit simply poverty?

Doeshuman survival trump ecology? Like the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon, perhaps we are seeing the end of these creatures, and there is nothing that can be done.

Lance Anderson



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