Bahia Salinas Research Center (BSRC) was founded in order to support the conservation efforts of the community-based NGO Equipo Tora Carey (ETC), which carries out monitoring programs of endangered species around Punta Descartes, in the North Pacific of Costa Rica.
Operational costs are key obstacles in making a project such as this economical, social and environmentally
sustainable. Moreover, finding private companies to continuously help finance community research and conservation can be quite complicated, especially when the place has little development, so this is where we came in. To help cover some of ETC’s expenses, we started out coordinating student groups to visit the area and work along the NGO on conservation biology both on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. This way, we bought new research equipment for the NGO, we brought income to the community by hosting the groups on community houses, which also allowed for cultural exchange, we started costing some of the operational costs ourselves and we nurture the people with more scientific knowledge.
Unfortunately, as great as this program is, it is still not enough to cost the activities performed by the NGO during the entire year so we needed to expand our reach. Thus, we decided to create an online shop to sell products related to the ecosystems of Punta Descartes, and this way, we are aiming to donate the necessary income needed by the NGO, hire new local staff to develop artisan crafts to sell on the platform and with this, promote the value of conservation and give people all over the world the opportunity to help us out on our quest to expand our reach over local communities.
Keep in mind that by facilitating the continuous, science-based monitoring of critical habitats and Environmental Education activities, we become part of a circle that provides accurate information for local decision-makers; at the same that local communities are empowered to take part in deciding for the faith of their resources and future generations.
We, Maike Heidemeyer (right) and Marianne Feel (left), are biologists and co-founders of Equipo Tora Carey, where we voluntarily design, execute and supervise the research protocols that Equipo Tora Carey is implementing, and further analyze the data to produce upscaled science channeled towards local decision-makers. We both hold a Bachelor's Degree in Biology with Emphasis in Ecology and Sustainable Development from the University of Latina of Costa Rica. Maike has been working with sea turtles for almost 14 years and specializes in conservation genetics and satellite tracking of endangered marine species, and currently works at the CIMAR and CIBCM Research Centers of the University of Costa Rica. Marianne has focused her studies on marine ecology and ecosystems health, with broad working experiences in sustainability, networking and strategic implementation of sustainable development plans. We are both pursuing further postgraduate careers with our investigations focusing on Punta Descartes and the establishment of Equipo Tora Carey as an economically efficient protect for Humans and the Environment.
We are two biologists, Maike Heidemeyer and Marianne Feoli, who've been working with sea turtles in Costa Rica for the last five-eight years. We have concentrations in molecular biology and sustainability, and a passion for doing things right and promoting conservation.
Our knowledge and the one from the people that surround us have given us the ability to create this beautiful project which we are constantly working to make better and better. We are often tackling obstacles and learning about economics, anthropology, psychology, marketing, and so many other sciences that we never imagined we had to, and we do it proudly!
Regarding Equipo Tora Carey (ETC), whom we see as part of our team, is currently protecting five sea turtle nesting beaches on a nightly basis and doing weekly surveys of three sea turtle foraging grounds, three coastal ray habitats and one parrot migration path, as well as giving weekly environmental education workshops, among other activities. Furthermore, being community-based, ETC exclusively employs local community members and fishermen, all to accomplish the wider goal to make the case for the value of protecting nature.
Our dream is to make this project strong enough to become 100% sustainable and replicable in other areas.
Personalized field trips for student groups
One-day activities for independent tourists
COMING SOON: Research Facility and Equipment Rentals
Acquirement of research permits and other legal procedures
Biology-based advisory services
Local Artisan products
Stainless Steel & 925 Sterling Silver Jewelry to support conservation
Products made with recycled material from the ocean
“Achieve the economic sustainability of community-based NGOs dedicated to marine conservation by transparently involving the concerned global population in initiatives that create opportunities to solve economic, social and environmental needs”
WHY PUNTA DESCARTES?
Punta Descartes is a remote peninsula, located between the Santa Rosa National Park and the border to Nicaragua. It is home to unique ecological processes and a vast diversity of habitats and species, many of which are migratory. For example, the peninsula's sandy bays and reefs are inhabited year-round by different sea turtle species, sharks and rays, it’s waters by humpback whales of both poles, and the mangroves and dry forest by rare parrots, monkeys, and felines. Hence, their preservation for future generations concerns not only those with an interest in the area’s land and sea but also the wider region and everyone who cares about long-lasting and effective conservation programs.
The peninsula's ecological richness contrasts with the low social-economic development status of its coastal communities. Fishing is the main income for most people and the recent initiatives of mass tourism and destructive developments threaten not only the area's biodiversity but also the integrity of the local culture, customs, and knowledge. By supporting the community-based conservation projects of ETC, we not only protect our species and ecosystems, but also the people who defend a harmonious development of themselves and their environment. In Punta Descartes, we believe that truly sustainable development is possible.
BSRC aims to bring Punta Descartes ecological richness closer to everyone. By providing the opportunity for students, tourists and the general public to participate in ETC’s activities in custom-designed packages, and the selling of unique items that symbolize the species that are emblematic for the area, we want to achieve a circular economy that integrates the reuse of trash collected from our beaches and reefs, empowerment of local communities, women in science and entrepreneurship, and of course, the ongoing conservation efforts of local species and ecosystems.
Meanwhile, our products directly improve the local economy through community-based tourism and human resources, we further provide economic support to research initiatives carried out locally by ETC, long-term students, and volunteers, requiring the hiring of more and more local community members and generating new biological information in a constant basis. In this sense, natural resources gain a complete distinct economical value and their conservation becomes economically feasible.