Egg Harvest for Consumption

The Problem: Throughout the past several years there have been many stories in the news about sea turtles egg poachers being arrested for tampering with nests and trying to sell eggs. Although these stories are a great step toward creating awareness for this plight of the turtles, more still needs to be done. One of the main problems sea turtles face is poaching when they are most vulnerable, before they have hatched. After the female turtle has laid the eggs, she will bury them and return to the sea. The area where she nests will be disturbed, making it easy for poachers to identify the nesting site.

There are many reasons humans seek sea turtle eggs. In some Latin American countries sea turtle dishes are often served at special occasions including weddings, Mother's Day, Christmas and Easter, while the eggs are especially coveted as an aphrodisiac and source of protein Because the eggs are a desirable good to some people, there are many poachers who have made it their business to tap into this market and sell eggs for a lucrative profit. Learn more about the threat of sea turtle consumption.

Species Affected: All species are affected by egg poaching.

The Solution: Part of the challenge is roughly 50% of the world's population lives along the coast. Coastal resource managers have little detail on how differently constructed and positioned armoring structures affect sea turtle nesting. Additional studies are needed to further understand the alternatives to the current coastal structures. Current regulatory policies must change if there is any hope of saving natural beaches. These changes cannot take place the public's help.
  * Do not disturb sea turtle nests;
  * Support ecotourism based on sea turtles; opposed to consumption;
  * If you see someone disturbing a nest report it to the appropriate authority immediately;
  * Do not consume sea turtle products, whether it be from an egg or otherwise.

Case Studies: Usually, a combination of these methods will achieve the most successful results. Evidence of this success can be seen in Tortuguero, Costa Rica - the largest green turtle nesting site in the Western Hemisphere. In this remote area, villagers were first educated about the importance of conserving these species and the threats that consumption poses to sea turtle survival. Alongside education, conservationists also settled in the area to conduct on-going research of this key green turtle population. Slowly, villagers began to realize that changing their economy from one of consumption to conservation would increase their economic potential through tourism. Today, Tortuguero is a model for other small communities and boasts a 400% increase in nesting green turtles.

Related links:
  * About the Tortuguero Research Participant Program
  * Tortuguero Nesting Trends
  * Man suspected of sea turtle egg poaching
  * Real Men Donít Eat Turtle Eggs
  * Patrolling for turtle egg poachers
  * Real men don't eat turtle eggs; to fight turtle poaching, campaigners hit below the belt

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Sea Turtle Conservancy  |  4424 NW 13th St. Suite B-11, Gainesville, FL 32609
Phone: 352-373-6441  |  Fax: 352-375-2449  |   1-800-678-7853  |  stc@conserveturtles.org