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Project report

Sea Turtles and Plastic Projects Costa Rica , RUN BY: SEE Turtles | STATUS: COMPLETED

Supplied by SEE Turtles

This project is 100% Funded



AUD 30,008

Raised from 4,934 people

Project Background

Plastic is a major threat to sea turtles at every stage of their life cycle. Plastic on turtle nesting beaches impacts the movement of both nesting females and hatchlings and microplastic can make the beach toxic to sea turtle eggs. In addition, turtles often confuse plastic bags for jellyfish (a primary sea turtle food source) and plastic debris such as discarded fishing nets or beach furniture can trap and drown both hatchlings and adults.

SEE Turtles Sea Turtles & Plastic project works with community partners to clean up and recycle plastic waste from important sea turtle habitats around the world. We fund projects that find creative uses for recycling plastic waste in ways that provide income for conservation efforts and members of the local communities. For this project, we collaborated with four sea turtle conservation projects along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, two on the Osa Peninsula and two on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Key Project Activities

CREMA (Guanacaste)
To date, CREMA (Centro de Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas) has organized a recycling campaign in the local community where 35 families participated and collected more than 1,450 kilos of plastic, all of which was recycled. They also completed a beach clean-up which collected 124 kilos of trash, 31 kilos of which was recycled.

Osa Conservation (Osa Peninsula)
Due to delays in shipping and the holiday season, the Precious Plastic machine (which shreds and extrudes plastic) has not yet arrived in Costa Rica but we anticipate that it will happen by the one-year anniversary of the funding, and we will report on that progress in the final project report. In addition, Osa Conservation is making and deploying “light guardians” – recycled ice cream buckets that are painted and used to cover lights on beaches near where sea turtles are nesting (artificial light can interrupt turtle nesting). They have completed more than 30 light guardians and are deploying them around the region.

Tortugas de Osa (Osa Peninsula)
To date, they have held two recycling workshops with 28 local participants. Their recycling center has collected more than 2,000 kilos of plastic and recycled 805 kilos of plastic. Funds also paid the monthly salary of a local community member to manage the recycling center, greatly improving the center’s ability to recycle by maintaining the machinery and improving its efficiency.

Wildlife Conservation Association (Guanacaste)
The manufacture and shipping of the shredder machine has taken longer than expected. WCA expects the machines to arrive and begin functioning this month. We will be able to provide a more detailed report at the one-year anniversary of the grant.

Key Project Outcomes

In total, our partners to date have collected an estimated 3,663 kilos of plastic and recycled 2,339 kilos.

CREMA: 1,574 kilos of plastic collected and 1,481 kilos of plastic recycled.

Osa Conservation: 32 light guardians completed with 5 confirmed hotels that will deploy them to date. 89 kilos of plastic collected and 53 kilos recycled.

Tortugas de Osa: 2,000 kilos of plastic collected and 805 kilos of plastic recycled.

Community Involvement

Each of these projects we supported have strong community involvement:

  • CREMA: 9 community members are benefitting economically from clean-up activities including income from recycling and from housing and feeding volunteers
  • Tortugas de Osa: Two community members are being employed to work in the recycling center. Funds are also providing incentives for community members to bring recycling to the center to help build a culture of recycling.
  • Osa Conservation: Once the machinery is received and set up, the group of local women who run the recycling center will benefit from making products from the plastic they collect.
  • Wildlife Conservation Association: Similar to Osa Conservation, the community benefits will commence upon receipt and set-up of the machinery.

What's Next?

The program will continue for the next six months to encompass a full year of activities. By then, we believe that all the programs will be fully running and providing significant benefits to both turtle conservation and the coastal communities. The communities and local partners will need to invest in ongoing training and maintenance but the strategy moving forward is for the income generated by sales of recycled products to cover those ongoing costs.

Can travelers visit the project?

Travelers can visit any of these projects with advance notice. Most accept volunteer help as well (generally a commitment of at least a week) and volunteers are expected to cover food and lodging. We are happy to help facilitate that wherever possible.

How was it this funded?

Thanks to hundreds of tiny donations from these online businesses and their customers.

World Nomads USA
World Nomads Canada
Travel Insurance Direct AU
World Nomads Australia
World Nomads NZ
World Nomads UK
World Nomads Global
World Nomads Europe
World Nomads Ireland
SEE Turtles

SEE Turtles connects people with sea turtles in meaningful, personal, and memorable ways. We help the sea turtle community connect, grow, and thrive by supporting community-based conservation efforts. Our programs provide funding, resources, and tools to protect endangered sea turtle species in the Global South and opportunities for travelers to participate in conservation efforts.