Sea Turtles of Nicaragua

Nicaragua is fortunate to have a variety of sea turtles in the waters bordering the country. Even though they are a popular attraction for visitors, conservationists are trying to use the turtle watching guided tours to bring awareness to the plight of the turtles. Most of the turtles are endangered, and protecting their nesting grounds is vital to the survival of the turtles. Some cultures still practice the hunting of turtles, even though it has been declared illegal. With Nicaragua declaring the beaches where turtles nest as wildlife refuges and conservationists keeping an eye on them, the turtles have a fighting chance.

The nesting populations in Nicaragua include the pacific green turtle, the leatherback sea turtle, the hawksbill sea turtle, the olive ridley sea turtle and the loggerhead sea turtle. There are two turtles of Nicaragua that are critically endangered, namely the leatherback turtle and the hawksbill turtle. The leatherback turtle is commonly found along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and can reach a weight of anything between two and seven hundred kilograms depending on maturity. It is also the largest marine turtle on the planet and protecting it is vital. The fact that souvenirs and other items are made out of the shell of the hawksbill turtle has put it in the critically endangered class as it has been hunted to near extinction. It is not a very big sea turtle, weighing in at approximately eighty kilograms and a maximum of ninety-four centimeters in length. To have these two rare turtle species nesting on the beaches of Nicaragua is a great honor for the country. The green turtle, olive ridley sea turtle and the loggerhead turtles are also endangered, with the urgency of keeping the green turtle off the critically endangered list taking priority.

The green turtle is also found on both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, and can reach a weight of up to a hundred and eighty kilograms. Unfortunately, many locals hunt this turtle for its meat, and it is estimated that approximately eleven thousand are killed each year. Hunting these turtles is affecting the turtle populations as this turtle takes anything between twenty to fifty years to reach sexual maturity, and without sexually mature adults, the numbers of these turtles could decline rapidly. The olive ridley turtle can grow to between fifty-eight and seventy-four centimeters and during breeding season, thousands of turtles approach the shore to lay their eggs, with La Flor and Chacocente being the two main beaches for these turtles. Last but not least, the loggerhead turtle can grow to weigh a hundred and fifteen kilograms and are located on the Caribbean coast. They are easily recognizable by their large heads. These turtles are vital to the ocean eco-system, and protecting them is the mission of the Nicaraguan government.