On Playa Blanca, our work focuses on Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Easter Pacific Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). The in-water studies consist of monitoring the feeding habitat used by sea turtles in different life stages to collect data about population structure, genetic origin, health status and in-water habitat use. This will help us to assess the types of threats that sea turtles are exposed to in this area. We capture individuals, tag them, take biometric data, tissue and sometimes blood samples and release them back to the ocean.
We also operate a rescue and rehabilitation centre, as often we find turtles which have suffered traumas or illness. Our rehab procedures and installations follow international best practices and provide us with 9 tanks for sea turtles. We receive dozens of sea turtles each year, most of which we can rehabilitate and release back into the wild.
Since mangroves play an essential ecological role for coastal ecosystems and therefore for sea turtles, we have implemented a mangrove reforestation project in Playa Blanca together with a local grassroots organisation. In the long term this will improve the health status of mangroves and water quality in the area.
Another important but vulnerable ecosystem are the off shore sea grass beds, on which sea turtles and other marine animals feed, and which provide a living habitat for a wide range of organisms and small marine species. In 2013, we started to conduct sea grass bed studies near Playa Blanca to gain knowledge about the health status and biomass production. We found two species of sea grass which are essential in their contribution to a healthy ocean – the main condition for maintaining its biodiversity.