Wildlife

A Dome for Turtles and More

This week, Armando Ubeda, Mesoamerican Program Manager for LightHawk traveled to Costa Rica as part of an expedition to promote the conservation and governability of the Central American Dome. LightHawk is in Costa Rica supporting this initiative led by MarViva, donating flight to the expedition and helping raise the profile of this effort.

LightHawk volunteer pilot Stephanie Wells (center) and Mesoamerican Program Manager Armando Ubeda (right) took Dr. Sylvia Earle (left) to survey turtle tracks along Costa Rica’s beaches.

The Central American Dome is an area in the Pacific Ocean just offshore from Central America which boasts high productivity where cold water wells up from deep ocean areas to float just below the warm surface layer. This nutrient rich marine area is of great importance to critically endangered leatherback turtles. It also supports commercial fisheries and provides carbon sequestration in the ocean, playing a fundamental role in the mitigation of climate change.

While in San Jose, Ubeda attended a press conference held at the offices of MarViva packed with local media, local and regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and several government representatives. Notably, the Minister of the Environment, Dr. Rene Castro pledged that the government of Costa Rica is in favor of protecting the Central American Dome. Dr. Sylvia Earle from Mission Blue was also in attendance and announced that the Dome had been declared a Hope Spot.

It is our hope that more organizations and the governments of other regional nations join the effort to protect the Dome, a special place that is critical to the health of the oceans and the coastal communities of the region.

After spending a year and four days in the extreme cold and white of Antarctica, I came back to the world a changed person. My passion is to share stories of people doing extraordinary things and I've done that since 2008 as the chief storyteller for LightHawk. LightHawk is a unique non-profit that grants flights to conservation groups through a network of volunteer pilots. Nearly everyday LightHawk donates educational, scientific and photography flights covering the U.S., Mexico, Central America and parts of Canada. LightHawk volunteer pilots, aircraft and resources help to tip the balance toward sustainability for every major environmental issue within our targeted areas of focus. My favorite part of flying at 1,000 feet in a small aircraft is seeing how that perspective changes how people see their communities and empowers them to take positive action on behalf of conservation. Taking off is pretty cool too.

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Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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