Hundreds of volunteers hit the sand this weekend to clean up the beach in Unico de Dorado, a city in northern Puerto Rico, to help leatherback sea turtles nest, the Spanish news agency EFE reports.
The Chelonia group and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, or DRNA, organized Saturday’s beach clean-up.
The beach in Unico has been the most active nesting area for leatherbacks in Puerto Rico for years and one of the most important in the Caribbean, Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Carmen Guerrero said in a statement.
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, or WIDECAST, issued a resolution at its annual meeting earlier this month recognizing the nesting site.
“We are very grateful for the work of all the volunteers who went to the beach today and to the Chelonia and Proyecto Tinglar Dorado groups, who do commendable work each season, along with the other organizations in the Red Tortuguera de Puerto Rico,” Guerrero said.
A total of 597 leatherback sea turtle nests were registered in Puerto Rico in 2014, the DRNA secretary said.
“Nesting season for leatherbacks, a sea turtle threatened with extinction, is starting and the idea behind cleaning up the beach is to maintain the area so there are no obstacles when they arrive in April – the peak month – for nesting,” Chelonia spokesman Raymond Flores said.
Chelonia has been working to have the beach area declared a nature reserve since it provides important habitat for the endangered leatherback, Flores said.