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El Salvador

Montecristo Island


Conservation benefit: Protection of four endangered species of marine turtles

Community benefit: Turtle egg hatchery improvements; waste management; children’s sea turtle awareness activities; turtle festival; ecotourism, artisanal fishing and handicraft training

Date Approved: 06.2023

The beaches of Montecristo Island are one of the main sea turtle nesting sites in El Salvador. Four species, all of them endangered, nest here: olive ridley, hawksbill, green, and leatherback. Turtle populations are threatened by loss of habitat, fishing methods that catch them inadvertently, marine debris, and climate change. Here, taking turtle eggs is illegal, but poaching is still a problem. Natural predators such as snakes and crabs, as well as domestic animals, also prey on the eggs.

In 2022, Seacology funded construction of a turtle egg hatchery, an awareness campaign, and livelihood support. The project was a big success; 148,926 sea turtle eggs hatched at the facility, and 145,890 hatchlings were released. This significantly exceeded expectations. Our project partner, Asociación Mangle staff, and 20 turtle egg collectors (tortugueros) also took part in trainings to improve monitoring and conservation.

This project will continue those efforts by improving the monitoring shed and hatchery and providing trash cans and expanded beach cleanups. Sixty people will be trained to gather sea turtle eggs. About 85 percent are expected to hatch, but the rate could be higher, as it was in 2022. The numbers will be carefully tracked and provided to the Ministry of the Environment. The project will also continue to compensate egg collectors with training on how to build and repair boats, and with artisanal fishing gear. Our partner will also teach people how to earn money by making t-shirts and crafts.

At least 100 kids from the community will take part in four days of sea turtle conservation activities, including games and artwork. In October, the community will hold a sea turtle festival with youth art and turtle knowledge contests, games, and release of hatchlings on the beach. Local FM Radio Mangle will produce and publicize the festival.

Project Updates

June 2024

After cleaning up the beach to improve conditions for turtle incubation season, our project partners upgraded the hatchery with poles, sand cleaning, and palm leaf covers. They outfitted the guardhouse with equipment to store records and provide better surveillance, making a more comfortable environment for both tourists and hatchery men. To date, 116,212 turtle eggs hatched, with an astonishing 92,453 hatchlings released.

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February 2024

This project has already accomplished most of its objectives. Beach cleanups are ongoing. The sea turtle hatchery was repaired, and the guardhouse was modified to improve conditions for hatchery caretakers as well as tourists. As of mid-December 2023, 116,212 sea turtle eggs had hatched, and 92,453 hatchlings had been released.

Three days of environmental education activities for kids focused on the importance of sea turtles. A sea turtle festival in December featured music, presentations about the hatchery’s results, games, and the release of hatchlings. Over ten local communities participated. Fishers have attended four training sessions on how to repair fiberglass boats. This reduces costs for fishers, who are the de facto guardians of the local waterways and mangroves.

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