Punta Pargos Marine Turtle Conservation Project 2018-19

Marc Ward

Other projects

13 Mar 2013

Punta Pargos Green Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program

21 Sep 2015

Punta Pargos Marine Turtle Conservation Project 2015-16

13 Dec 2016

Punta Pargos Marine Turtle Conservation Project 2016-17

Sea Turtles Forever (STF) in Punta Pargos, Costa Rica promotes conservation of endangered Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Olive Ridley sea turtles during peak nesting season by:

1. Contracting local residents (including former poachers) and recruiting volunteers to conduct nightly patrols to protect turtle eggs from poachers.

2. Relocating nests to safe locations, and counting and measuring eggs and hatchlings.

3. Measuring and tagging nesting females to collect population, nesting, and movement information.

4. Collecting and sharing data on nesting turtles to increase conservation of these populations and their nesting habitat.

5. Providing conservation programs in local schools and communities.


In 1998, Marc and Rachel Ward, U.S. visitors to Costa Rica, became aware that almost 100% of the endangered sea turtle eggs laid on Punta Pargos beaches were illegally taken. In addition, nesting populations had declined dramatically since the 1970’s. Although sea turtles and eggs are legally protected in Costa Rica, a poor economy and coastal population growth has led to unenforced and unsustainable egg poaching pressure.

In 2000, the Wards started protecting nests, and in 2005, organized Sea Turtles Forever (STF), a small non-profit organization, with permits from the Costa Rican government. STF started paying local residents (including former poachers) to help protect sea turtle nests. The need for conservation education spawned local school education programs for students and their families.

The focus of this project is to restore sea turtle populations by unique nest protection efforts, conservation programs in the local community, and providing information to government and conservation groups. Nest protection efforts include nightly patrols by local residents to deter poaching, moving nests away from nesting turtle’s tracks and reburying eggs in a hidden location on the native beach. STF has saved 5,000 to 12,000 endangered sea turtle eggs each year. Conservation programs include education in local schools and coordinating community volunteer beach clean-ups on nesting beaches.

Punta Pargos is one of only six significant nesting areas in the country for the endangered Eastern Pacific Green sea turtle (State of the World’s Sea Turtles 10th Anniversary Report 2014-15). However, the area is not included in any designated conservation area yet.

Project Updates

11 Jan 2022

Article featuring the project.

The Short Story of Sea Turtles Forever

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