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Protortuga marks a milestone in sea turtle conservation in Miches

Miches, October 25, 2023. The Miches Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program(Protortuga) successfully celebrated the closing of its 2023 season, marking a milestone in the conservation of sea turtles in the country. This initiative, carried out through a collaboration between the El Seibo-Miches Hotel and Tourism Association PROMICHES and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, has focused on monitoring and protecting sea turtle nesting sites in Miches and La Vacama.

Protortuga’s success has been possible thanks to a public-private-community alliance in which various organizations, local businesses, and community leaders have joined forces to guarantee the best conditions for sea turtle reproduction in this area. Among the participating entities are the El Seibo-Miches Hotel and Tourism Association PROMICHES, Tropicalia, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, Consorcio Energético Punta Cana-Macao (CEPM) and WID Company. It is worth mentioning the support of the Resilient El Seibo project, implemented by the German Development Cooperation, GIZ.

“Sea turtle conservation is essential to ensure the survival of these endangered species. In Miches, tourism has been an engine of development, especially for rural communities. However, there is ample room for innovation in sustainability. Our vision is to build a tourism development model that prioritizes the needs of the ecosystems and makes them responsibly available to the residents and visitors of this destination,” said Yamil Isaías, president of PROMICHES, in his opening remarks.

The event was also attended by the Vice Minister of Coastal and Marine Resources, José Ramón Reyes, who emphasized that “Protortugais an exemplary project that demonstrates that responsible tourism and sea turtle conservation can coexist harmoniously. The shared vision between the Ministry and the tourism sector of Miches is that this new destination will be developed under a model in which the actions undertaken guarantee a safer future for these species on our coasts”. The event also brought together prominent public and private sector figures, national and international environmental experts, and representatives of the local press.

Protortuga’s achievements in the 2023 season are remarkable. During this period, 21 sea turtle nests were identified and protected, including the first nesting record of Green and Hawksbill sea turtles in the area, with an astonishing 100% conservation rate of the monitored nests. In total, 1,399 normal eggs and 728 hatchlings were recorded, all of which hatched and arrived safely at sea. Awareness of the importance of these species was also a key focus, reaching 300 girls from the ‘I am a girl I am important’ program, 31 employees of the Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda hotel and 53 students from the local Vocational School through workshops dedicated to the importance of sea turtles for the marine-coastal ecosystem.

One of the most significant achievements of the season was the resolution of the Ministry of Tourism prohibiting the transit of horses and motor vehicles, as well as the landing of helicopters, in Playa Esmeralda, which has had a positive impact on the nesting process of sea turtles.

The scope of the program covers 50 km. including Playa Esmeralda Oeste and Este, Playa Celedonio, Playa Limón, Playa Barbacoa-Nisibón and Playa La Vacama. For this season, Playa Esmeralda Este and Playa Limón were actively monitored, although surveillance was maintained on the other beaches. To facilitate the identification and supervision of nests, measures were implemented such as the sectoring of beaches with wooden signs painted with numbers in reflective paint, fencing and nest marking. In addition, constant monitoring, both day and night, was carried out to ensure the safety of the sea turtles and their nests.

The program included an extensive research and data collection period spanning seven months, during which a total of 30 events were monitored, including 21 sea turtle nests and 9 caracollos. This success has been possible thanks to the collaboration of leading experts in sea turtle conservation, both nationally and internationally. The advice of Claudio Quesada-Rodríguez and Laura Villalobos, from Costa Rica; and Marvin del Cid, Rita Sellares and Omar Shamir from the Dominican Republic, has consolidated the scientific basis of the program since its inception, ensuring the best results at the technical level.

It also highlights the collaboration with the local community and organizations such as the Provincial Environmental Office, the El Cedro District Board and the National Aquarium, which have actively participated in the initiative.

Protortugais an outstanding example of how collaboration between the public, private and community sectors can be key to the conservation of endangered species and the sustainable development of a region. The shared vision is that responsible, resilient and regenerative tourism and sea turtle conservation can coexist harmoniously, contributing to the safe future of these species along the Miches coast.

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