Dr. Richard LaVal received an email from Alvaro Ugalde with the Voice of the Leatherback Turtles attached. He read the magazine and immediately sent a letter to the Legiislative Assembly on behalf of Las Baulas National Park and the Leatherbacks. In addition, he forwarded the magazine to colleagues and friends and provided his own introduction. We will share both his letter and his introduction with you.
To download a copy of Voice of the Leatherback Turtles click here.
First, it is important for you to know a little about Richard because it adds credibility to his sincerity. Dr. Richard LaVal first visited Costa Rica in 1967 as a graduate student in the Organization for Tropical Studies tropical biology course. He moved to Costa Rica in early 1980 and lives in Monteverde. He is a member of the Tropical Science Center in San Jose, owner of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and a leader in conservation efforts within the country. He has been doing extensive research and giving lectures and field experiences on bats. He has found time to write a book (Murciélagos/Bats de Costa Rica) and many articles in scientific journals. More recently he opened a state-of-the-art live bat exhibit in Monteverde, the Bat Jungle, that is unique in the world and one of the leading natural history exhibits in Costa Rica.
In the introductory note to his friends, he encourages them to send their own letters protesting the legislation to downgrade this national park to a wildlife refuge, which effectively opens it up to commercial development.
He writes,“ I have seen these magnificant turtles many times laying eggs on this beach. It is an unforgettable sight! I also saw, on an adjacent beach, one of the results of development, which always has brilliant lighting – a street light was actually on the edge of the beach, and confused hatchling leatherback turtles were walking in endless circles under the light trying to get to the ocean. No doubt they were picked off by predators before they ever reached the sea. Turtle biologists tell us female turtles will turn back if they encounter lights on a beach, so development anywhere near Playa Grande beach is simply out of the question.”
His letter to key members of the Legislative Assembly, which are provided in the magazine, is very compelling and it follows:
I strongly recommend that you reject the bill now pending before the Environment Commission of the Legislative Assembly (Expediente No. 17.383 “Rectificación de Límites del Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas y Creación del Refugio de Vida Silvestre Las Baulas de Propiedad Mixta.”) This proposed legislation is not necessary and has been rejected by legal, political, and environmental experts in Costa Rica and around the world.
Leatherback turtles return each year to make nests and lay their eggs on the beach where they have hatched. Costa Rica’s Las Baulas National Marine Park is their home and has been for thousands of years. The Leatherback turtles in the Pacific Ocean are at extreme risk of extinction. There are today probably fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining in the entire eastern Pacific. The downgrading of the Park’s protection of the turtles puts them at imminent risk.
The Leatherbacks are magnificent animals completely deserving of all the respect humans can give them. If these turtles become even more threatened and disappear as a result of this careless and unnecessary legislation, all humans will be the worse for it. Ethically and morally, it is unconscionable; economically it is unwise, because Costa Rica’s green image will be forever sullied; and politically it is monumentally absurd since the reputation of Costa Rica as a country that pretends to lead the world with Peace with Nature will be shown to be a charade.
Reject this bill. Save the habitat of the Leatherback turtles, and save Costa Rica the shame and embarrassment of shoddy, anti-environmental legislation