Frank Paladino Ph.D. has devoted years to the study of Leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica and all over the world. He now adds his voice to the many conservationists strongly opposed to downgrading Las Baulas National Park and threatening the survival of these magnificent creatures. Frank is a distinguished professor in the Department of Biology at Purdue University. He has been an integral part of The Leatherback Trust for years as well. Many of the people we have highlighted on Nature Blog have literally committed their lives to preserving and protecting our natural world. Theirs are voices that speak on behalf of nature and our debt to them is priceless.
The following is an excerpt of an open letter recently written to all Costa Ricans by Dr. Paladino:
I have worked for over 20 years on beaches in Costa Rica on research involving marine issues mostly with turtles but also with large pelagic fishes. Over 45 graduate students have participated and completed important scientific studies on marine issues. These students are from the USA, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Australia, Colombia, Peru, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, England and Greece. The scientific research of these brilliant young people, coming to Costa Rica from all over the world, have led to the publication of over 55 reviewed scientific papers in the leading international scientific journals.
The results of these properly authorized and conducted studies, led to the conclusion that Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas is an essential and important national and international marine park that protects the largest nesting population of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtles in the Eastern Pacific. This research of 20 years has been well documented and very open and transparent as has been the work with local communities, the Costa Rican Government, NGO’s, many collaborating scientists, and the National Park Service to help protect and understand this international treasure protected by your Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas de Guanacaste.
This new law introduced by President Arias will be the death of the Costa Rican National Park System and the protection it provides to your environmental national treasures. The world has looked-up to Costa Rica as an example of how to shape an ecotouristic economy; yet this action by the Arias administration will open Pandora’s box to the elimination and attacks on all the other national parks.
The Leatherback Trust is an NGO and has been audited in both the USA and in Costa Rica. All donations have been used to support the educational, scientific and conservation goals of TLT. We have donated funds to the government through the courts to acquire undeveloped open land within the park boundaries. We have purchased one building that now serves as the Goldring Marine Biology laboratory, the only Marine Laboratory in the park. It serves as an educational facility where scientists, students and volunteers have come to work with the park administration, all with the proper scientific permits from Costa Rica, under the umbrella agreement with MINAE that established this facility as an educational and research institution. This facility has been used by MINAE and NGO’s also for workshops and training courses in the area of marine conservation and protection.
The government sanctioned management plan was conducted by Costa Rican scientists who concluded that this park and the fragile area are critical; furthermore, that it would not support the type of development planned by developers, as has now been confirmed by technical criteria issued by the government’s institution administrating subterranean waters and irrigation, SENARA.
The rest of the world and I now doubt the commitment of the Arias administration to protect your national treasures including aquifers, preserve your ecotouristic economy based on them and respect your own scientists and findings that demand you protect these important places and animals for all time.
To view a fascinating National Geographic video featuring Dr. Paladino and the Leatherbacks, please click here.