Monitors report leatherback nesting numbers way down

For as long as those who live near Nicaragua’s Playa Chacocente can remember, leatherback sea turtles have landed on the Pacific beach each year from November to March, hauling themselves above the tidal zone to dig nests and lay their eggs. Weighing up to 1,500 pounds and reaching up to seven feet in length, leatherbacks are the largest of all sea turtles, often attracting hordes of tourists to Playa Chacocente. But in the nesting season just past, the beach’s visitors went home disappointed. Not a single leatherback came ashore. Until the 1980s, hundreds of leatherbacks nested on Chacocente every year. But then Nicaragua began building better roads, connecting urban areas to the rural coast and spurring urban demand for turtle eggs. This encouraged a surge of poaching, which biologists believe has taken a large toll on turtle numbers in recent decades. Nicaraguan conservation groups estimate they can protect over 90... [Log in to read more]

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