Under government permission, villagers collected 1 to 5 percent of the eggs laid by Olive Ridley turtles on Costa Rica’s Pacific beach of Ostional over the first weekend of November.
As a routine, the eggs were put into gunny sacks and got cleaned in sea water.
When back on coast, they were traded for cash to support the collectors’ families, or even became nutritious meals on their tables.
During the nesting season from July through December each year, limited egg collection was a unique way for Costa Rica to help the endangered species sustain safe and orderly.
(Soundbite) Mauricio Mendez, Marine Biologist
“This beach has very high concentrations of organic materials. This contributes to large amounts of micro organisms which lead to faster decomposition of the eggs. Therefore the community is permitted to harvest eggs. This helps reduce the amounts of organic materials in the sand (and better protect the eggs).”
In another precaution, eggs already laid might be dug out or smashed by newcomers, due to the high numbers of upcoming pregnant turtles.
While gathering eggs, the villagers were also devoted to cleaning the beach and patrolling day and night against poachers.
Thus, a dependable cycle is maintained for the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, one of the two most important sites in the world for hatching of the rare animal.