Sea Shepherd says it is going on beach patrol

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said Monday it has joined with a Caribbean organization protecting sea turtles to prevent poaching.

Sea Shepherd is not known for being subtle.

The other organization is Latin American Sea Turtles, which formerly was  WIDECAST-Costa Rica. The man poachers killed May 31, 2013, Jairo Mora Sandoval, was a WIDECAST volunteer.

A Sea Shepherd announcement said that representatives of Latin American Sea Turtles contacted it because volunteer numbers are declining steadily. Sea Shepherd said it would work to increase awareness of the local crises and recruit volunteers from its vast network of dedicated activists to protect green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles, which all frequent the beaches to nest on a yearly basis.

Sea Shepherd and Latin American Sea Turtles volunteers are actively patrolling Playa Pacuare coastline to locate and protect sea turtle nests, as well as the turtles, the organization said.

The beach is on the northern Caribbean coast south to Tortugero and north of Matina.

Sea Shepherd said that marine biologists predict that September is likely to be the peak nesting month for green sea turtles. Thus, members of the organization suspect an increase in poaching activity to occur during this time.

Said Sea Shepherd:

“Despite the fact that activist Jairo Mora Sandoval was killed by poachers on nearby Moín Beach in 2013, turtle slaughter and egg poaching remain relatively unexposed by the media as Costa Rica is often portrayed as an eco-touristic safe haven for animal species.

“Turtle slaughter and egg poaching is just the tip of the iceberg on Moín Beach, which is a hotbed for crime and illegal drug-trafficking activities. Despite its natural beauty and wildlife, this 17-kilometer stretch of coastline is unsafe without police escorts and thus, more risky to protect.”

The organization also claimed that an unspoken law exists in this area, where the first person to approach a turtle gets the nest. This rather primitive law is generally respected and reduces the chance of disputes, Sea Shepherd said, adding:

“Therefore, the basic strategy to protect these turtles is a game of numbers — the more volunteers patrolling the beaches and laying claim to turtles before poachers, the fewer eggs poached and resulting dead turtles. Preliminary field reports show one volunteer to every three poachers; thus, more volunteer recruits are desperately needed to keep the nesting turtles out of harm’s way.”

Sea Shepherd noted that about 200 persons live in the Pacuare area, and that there are few possibilities for economic activity.

“Economic desperation is not a valid excuse to murder these gentle creatures and export their eggs to foreign markets,” said Susan Hartland.. “A sea turtle is worth far more alive than dead to all of us, poachers included. Poaching and other human activities are wiping out sea turtles at alarming rates. Many species are close to permanently vanishing from the oceans.” She is Sea Shepherd U.S.A. executive director

Sea Shepherd is known for harrying the Japanese whaling fleet and for confronting those who would kill seals and dolphin.

Capt. Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd founder, still is a wanted man in Costa Rica on what appears to be trumped up charges of attacking a Costa Rican shark fishing boat. Although the confrontation was filmed and supports Watson’s narrative, local prosecutors continue to press the case.

A typical haul: These are 442 turtle eggs police confiscated in Moín last month.

A typical haul: These are 442 turtle eggs police confiscated in Moín last month.

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