Sea Turtle Conservation in Los Roques
Why Los Roques is important?
Los Roques Archipielago National Park protects a marine ecosystem of exceptional beauty and ecological value dominated by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. Located about 130 km from Venezuela’s mainland coast, it encompasses 221,120 ha of aquatic and terrestrial habitat, making it the largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea. In 1996, the park was declared a Ramsar site because of its importance as a reservoir of biodiversity and food resources.
Over the past ten years, tourism has replaced fishing as the primary economic activity. More than 50 thousand tourists visit the park annually. Today, the principal town has more than 1,200 residents and tourism services have become inadequate.
The national park protects one of the most valuable coral reefs in the Caribbean with respect to species diversity, area of live coverage, and low incidence of diseases. Los Roques supports about 61 species of corals, 200 species of crustaceans, 140 species of mollusks, 45 species of echinoderms, 60 species of sponges, and 280 species of fish. In addition, 92 bird species, 50 of which are migratory, can be seen in the park.
Four globally endangered sea turtle species nest and forage regularly on the islands, including the highly endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). This is one of the most important nesting sites for hawksbills in Venezuela.
Our main goal is to increase understanding of sea turtle population status in Los Roques and provide vital information to improve their conservation outlook in the region based on local community participation and outreach.