A species of sea turtles local to Guatemala, called Tortugas de Parlama, are being saved from extinction by different environmental groups and aficionados.
The reason for its extinctions is the trading of its eggs. I am not necessarily proud to say that growing up having Parlama eggs was a delicacy we used to look forward to (particularly now that I became Vegan). An ambulant vendor used to come to the house offering eggs by the dozen or we could sometime buy them at a street light.
I can picture the plastic bag with filled with eggs and some black sand. If you haven´t seen them picture a deflated soft ping pong ball. After washing them we usually ate them raw with tomato sauce, soy sauce and hot sauce. Nobody used to think much about this practice until about 15 years ago when environmental groups started to call attention to the risk of extinction of such specie. The commerce of the eggs is still the number one concern since there are plenty of people that still consume them and therefore plenty willing to sell them. Egg traders usually collect around 100 eggs per turtle, 35 to 50 dozens a week, they sell each dozen at around $2.00.
Today there are different programs and laws in place: educational programs discouraging the consuming of eggs for its environmental impact and also because they are extremely high in cholesterol and laws that stipulate the amount of eggs collected for consumption. A great number of the eggs collected are now bought by groups interested in preserving the turtles.
Such is the case of our friends the Riveras from the Rotary Club Guatemala Metropoli, which I belong to. Last year they bought various dozen eggs, cared for them until they hatched, cared for the baby turtles for about a month, to then release them into the ocean. This whole processed already increased the rate of probability of the turtles to survive, saving them from all types of predators, birds, crab, dogs, etc that might eat them before they hatch or on their way to the ocean. The baby turtles will still have to survive marine predators and only few will get to grow to adults.
One interesting fact is that the turtles know how to find their way back to the shore they first use to get in to the ocean and return there to lay their eggs. That means next year the task of saving them becomes even easier since they will come back to us!
Below various pictures of the turtles in the day we released them into the ocean in a nice Rotary family day near Puerto San José on the Pacific Ocean.