Baby turtle hatchlings
sea turtle, which can grow as long as 9 feet
(2.7 meters) and 6 feet wide
(1.8 meters), has inhabited this world for
over 100 million years. It has
outlasted the dinosaurs, the ice age and a
multitude of other catastrophes.
But will it be able to survive man?
estimate there are less than 5,000 nesting
females, down from 91,000 in 1980,
and that only 1 in 1,000 leatherback
hatchlings survive to adult-hood.
The habitat of the leatherback spans the
globe from the North Atlantic near
the Arctic Circle to the South Pacific
around New Zealand. Due to this vastness,
scientists never believed that the
population was in danger of extinction.
Children's Classic Literature by Twain,
Bronte, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Thoreau and
Leatherback Sea Turtles in Peril
will migrate hundreds of miles every year. The
females have the potential
of nesting up to ten times in one nesting season and
returning every 3-4
years for 30 years. However, no leatherback on the
Pacific coast of Costa
Rica lives long enough to accomplish this feat. Most
are only capable of
nesting once because they are killed at sea.
Animals of Costa Rica
"Over the last 22 years their numbers have declined
in excess of 95 percent,"
said Larry Crowder, a marine scientist at Duke
University in Durham, North
Carolina. The main cause of death is due to
gill-nets and longline swordfish
and tuna fisheries.
Longline fishing is a technique used by commercial
fishing vessels which
lay out vertically hung baited hooks over a distance
of 40-50 miles (64-97
kilometers). Calculating the number of longline
fishermen, Crowder estimates
that 100,000 miles of the equivalent of barbed wire
fencing is hung in the
ocean each night.
The leatherback, being an air breathing carnivore,
goes for the baited hooks,
becomes entangled and cannot surface for air,
therefore drowning. §
National Marine Park
A group of scientists who have been monitoring
Playa Grande in Las Baulas
National Park, near Tamarindo since 1988, have
tried to halt the demise of
They have hired rangers to protect the beach from
Using grants, donations and tourist dollars, the
scientists run a hatchery
where they hope to improve the survival rate to 1 in