Activities in the Bay of Jiquilisco to protect the Hawksbill sea turtle have been working, due largely to dedicated organizations, passionate community members, and the collaboration between these two different groups.
Wednesday, July 18 marked the 2nd Annual Hawksbill Turtle Festival in La Pirraya, a small island in the Bay of Jiquilisco. The festival was organized by the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative (ICAPO), the Mangrove Association, Ayuda en Acción, and Ministry of the Environment and had international participation including people and organizations from El Salvador, Spain, Nicaragua, Canada, and the United States.
The festival provided the perfect space for raising awareness, inviting community participation, and fostering collaboration between many different groups that work in the Bay of Jiquilisco.
The day began with a parade featuring at least five different schools and three marching bands. After a welcome from ICAPO, The Mangrove Association, and the Ministry of the Environment, the activities began. There was face painting, a puppet show, a costume competition for the girls, who were also required to know information about the Hawksbill turtle, and a soccer ball juggling competition.
In addition to the food, music, and activities, ICAPO initiated an effort to equip three sea turtles with satellite tracking devices. Participants from the day were lucky to witness this process first hand on two of the three sea turtles. The day ended by releasing the sea turtles into the bay, with the community members, students, and organizations watching on.
Three weeks prior to the festival in another part of the bay, a different story highlighting the efforts to protect this highly endangered sea turtle species took place. At the beginning of July, a group of three students currently supported in their education at MegaTec by the Viva Fund, began their community service hours at the Mangrove Association. Their first project to interview former blast fishermen was interrupted by news of a stranded Hawksbill sea turtle. One of the students accompanied by two technicians, and a wetland ranger, went to go find the turtle, which had been trapped in a shrimp pond and found by local community members. The turtle had entered the shrimp pond following the shrimp when the gate was open at high tide. At low tide, the gate was closed and the turtle was unable to escape back into the bay. After debating the fate of the turtle, the community members decided to call the wetland ranger, recalling the work of the rangers to protect the natural resources in the bay.
Due to coordination between The Mangrove Association, community members, the wetlands rangers, and ICAPO, the turtle was tagged and safely released into the bay. This event highlighted the cooperation that is happening in and around the Bay of Jiquilisco, fostered by information sharing and continued communication between all stakeholders.