In the last 2 months there has been an unusual amount of sea life washing up on the South Caribbean shores of Panama and Costa Rica. It has definitely been the big beloved sea turtles that are the the most obvious and alarming to the people of these beach communities. There have been 41 sea turtles (both Hawksbill and Green) reported in Puerto Viejo and 10 Green Sea Turtles in Bocas del Toro (3 in Playa Larga, 3 in Zapatilla, 3 in Escudo de Veraguas and 1 in Bluff). Dolphins, Red Snapper, eels and unusually high amounts of other marine life (particularly Sharp-nosed Puffer fish) have also been sited washing ashore in the same time period.

Found in Playa Chiquita (Costa Rica) in September.

Found in Playa Chiquita (Costa Rica) in September.

I spoke with Gabriel Jacome of the Smithsonian Research Center and Cristina Ordoñez of ANAM and they both confirmed that this is nothing normal in their experience. Although there are a few theories going around as to the cause of this phenomenon, without the proper documentation and long-term study; nothing can be concluded as of yet. Stay tuned for the next print issue (also available on-line) for a more in-depth look at what experts think may be the reason behind these unusual circumstances.

If you happen find any deceased animals, it’s very important you contact the proper authorities and, if possible, take three pictures:

–          1.  Turtle next to your foot, a cellphone, or anything that can indicate its relative size.

–          2. Head (to tell the species)

–          3. Tail (to tell the sex)

An example of a “relative size” photo. Note the flash light.

Contact ANAM (National Environmental Authority) at 757-9244 or Cristina Ordoñez directly at 6671-5594 and  With your help, hopefully the authorities can conclude exactly what is happening to our Caribbean sea life.

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