Our Story: The Magic of Playa Rio Oro
COPROT Tortugas de Osa was first founded in August 2018 by Laura Exley and Katya Barrantes, with the aim to develop a long-lasting sea turtle conservation project that supports local people and educates the future generations on the importance of protecting our natural resources. The project was initiated with just a small group of local community members managing the 2.5km long Playa Carate and a small hatchery, registering approximately 1000 nests per season. Before long their efforts were noticed, and a local landowner granted COPROT the use of a 1-acre piece of land situated right in between 2 nesting beaches adjacent to Playa Carate, called Playa Rio Oro and Playa Pejeperro. This was a huge development for the project, and allowed the construction of a base camp to house a larger team of Research Assistants and volunteers, as well as generate more income for the project. The adjacent beaches of Rio Oro abnd Pejeperro also just happen to be some of the busiest nesting beaches in the south Pacific of Costa Rica!
Since then, the organization has grown to the point where we are managing over 8km of important sea turtle nesting habitat, registering more than 7,000 nests and ensuring that nearly 500,000 hatchlings make it down to the ocean every season. We have also been able to provide paid employment to local people and develop a number of community initiatives, including marine plastic upcycling and women's empowerment groups.
The beaches of Carate, Rio Oro, and Pejeperro on the Osa Peninsula are some of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the South Pacific. Each beach is close to 2.5 kilometers with approximately 7,000 nests laid by the Olive Ridley (classified Vulnerable by the IUCN) and over 350 of the more elusive Pacific Green (classified as endangered by the IUCN) sea turtles. These beaches are essential for the protection of our marine wildlife, and are also part of established conservation refuges. We lose up to 25% of nests per annum because of high levels of predation and poaching on turtle nests in the area, and losses due to high tides and temperatures..
Our camp is settled close to Corcovado National park, which is known for its incredible biodiversity. The immense amount of wildlife that can be seen in the area has led to its popularity as a tourist destination. Development in Carate and surrounding areas in the past 25 years is mainly due to the increase in ecotourism with the construction of eco-lodges. These developments, although financially beneficial for the area, have not really increased opportunities for the local people of Carate that are sometimes needing to depend on natural resources for survival. COPROT has already provided many opportunities for education and income generation in Carate, and our vision is that sea turtle conservation is able to continue opening doors for a thriving, sustainable community.