Together with its international partners, Chiquita is committed to protect and restore marine and nesting habitats for endangered species in Panama. In 2009, Chiquita joined the San San Marine Turtle Project, which aims to protect endangered turtles such as the green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Since then, 41,166 baby turtles were released, including 10,500 hatchlings this year. In August 2015 more than 250 local and international volunteers helped to support the protection of the marine turtles in the San San Pond Sak Wetland reserve. The reserve is located in the Bocas del Toro region near the city Changuinola and is home to manatees, iguanas, parrots, hawks monkeys, snakes and sea turtles. For many years, especially green turtles have been increasingly endangered, poached and exploited for their eggs and meat.
In this context a new turtle hatchery was constructed with funds from the Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn, to reduce illegal exploitation of nesting females and increase productivity of leatherbacks and other species. The facility upgrade and purchase of new basic equipment for monitoring (e.g. gloves, tape, lodine, plaques etc.) and solar panels helped the local and international volunteers in monitoring the hatching season. The hatchery comprised a total of 276 nests (268 leatherback turtles, 1 green turtles and 7 hawksbill turtles). Usually the nesting season is from March until September (depending on the species) and the turtle hatching takes place from May until November.
Overall, the volunteers helped to relocate 376 leatherback turtles and 7 hawksbill turtles. A gratifying development was that nest looting could be limited to 8% of nests and also that no adult turtles have been killed. It is still important to raise environmental awareness and to help to establish new funds for the turtle projects of the San San Pond Sak nature reserve. In collaboration with local, national and international environmental organizations Chiquita remains dedicated to the sustainable protection of endangered habitats and species.
The San San Marine Turtle Project