Off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela lies Los Roques, a remote paradise, where stretches of picturesque beach meet a crystal-clear sea teeming with schools of colourful fish.
Los Roques is, however, more than just a pretty face. There are many commendable organisations working to maintain the long-chronicled diversity of species that reside in its engulfing Caribbean waters.
One of them – the Los Roques Scientific Foundation (Fundación Cientifíca Los Roques) – has been hard at work on the atoll since 1963 from its enviable present position inside Los Roques Archipelago National Park, a site is has occupied since before the park’s inception.
Untiring in its pursuit of innovative ways to secure the protection and sustainable use of marine resources, the Foundation strives to educate the islands’ residents and visitors about marine biology and associated social topics, as well as encourage the community to get involved in their efforts.
Sea Turtle Conservation
One major concern of the Foundation is the wellbeing of two species of endangered turtles (the green and the loggerhead) and two species of critically endangered sea turtles (the hawksbill and the leatherback), all of which use the islands’ beaches as nesting grounds.
The Foundation has long practiced different methods of helping to rebuild healthy populations of these turtles, including
ensuring the safe release of as many babies as possible into the surrounding seas.
As part of this work, the Foundation has developed an ‘Adopta une Tortuga’ (Adopt a Turtle) programme through which travellers visiting Los Roques can aid in this noble cause.
Turtle ‘godparents’ contribute directly to the project by sponsoring baby tortoises in hatcheries until release. Support can target a single turtle or multiple babies, and godparents are welcome to participate actively in the release process.
To date, more than 25,000 turtles have been released and many of them tagged to gain more information about the populations in the area. The Foundation’s work has also fuelled educational outreach about these endangered species both around the archipelago and throughout the world.
Important Local Support
Also active in this paradisiacal destination, in part through an abiding interest in the Foundation’s programmes, is Valencia Los Roques, a specialised travel agency that is your whl.travel local connection in Los Roques.
Several of Valencia Los Roques’s tours, like a day trip to Cayo de Agua, include visits to Dos Mosquises Key, the biological station where the turtles are looked after, to promote education about the marine wildlife of this unique ecosystem.
Valencia Los Roques itself contributes financially to the ‘Adopta una Tortuga’ programme, every member of the agency having individually adopted a baby turtle.
“We think the Foundation’s mission is amazing,” said Melissa Gonzalez Llovera, a travel agent at Valencia Los Roques.
“Previous to this organization, there was no one to care for the turtles. Nowadays, they release several species of turtles throughout the year and we love the idea of involving tourists in the venture and are proud to play a role in conserving these endangered species.
I really hope this will be the first of many biological stations for turtles and other endangered species, such as the whales, not only in Venezuela, but around the world.”
FROM | www.thetravelword.com
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