An evening stroll on one of the many deserted beaches near Isla Palenque is a great way to cap off any day. But sometimes you don’t find the beaches to be completely deserted. It’s a dark night, silent except for the sound of the waves crashing ashore…
…and the hushed scampering of flippers across the sand.
Between the months of April and October, the remote beaches of Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui are home to nesting sea turtles. These gentle giants come ashore in total darkness to dig holes in the sand and deposit hundreds of fragile, golf-ball-sized eggs. If you thought witnessing the egg-laying was the most incredible wildlife sighting you ever had, wait until you’re watching the tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand at daybreak as they make a mad dash over the beach and into the ocean. Their predators number many, and few of these baby turtles will survive, but the ones who do will return to this very same beach to renew the cycle of life, 30 years later.
Sea turtles somehow exude both a graceful elegance and a cute clumsiness. It’s hard not to fall in love with these beautiful creatures as they glide effortlessly through the water with the help of their giant flippers. To see a sea turtle in the ocean, in all its glory, is to see it at its best. They appear so vulnerable on land that we quickly grasp how desperately they need protection. Their habitat and ours are uniquely intertwined. Unfortunately, some people love sea turtles not for their value as a species, but for the taste of their eggs. The harvesting of sea turtle eggs for consumption poses a major threat to their survival. Development, too, takes a toll on these turtles. Not only is habitat destruction a serious problem, but also the bright lights from seaside homes cause nesting turtles to become disoriented.
Panama’s beaches are home to five different types of sea turtles, including leatherback, hawksbill, loggerhead, green, and olive ridley turtles. According to The Sea Turtle Conservancy, as many as 7,170 to 14,005 endangered leatherbacks nest between northern Costa Rica and central Panama. It’s not uncommon for sea turtles to come ashore at Isla Palenque. Visitors have found them on several occasions, adding to the island’s lure as a unique ecotourism destination. We at Isla Palenque love sea turtles and are committed to developing this island in a manner that ensures we will continue to host the arrivals (and maiden voyages) of these beautiful creatures for years to come. As Amble Resorts’ President Ben Loomis puts it, “The sight of these rare little sea monsters really heightens your sense of responsibility and protectiveness.”
Isla Palenque’s developers have wisely limited the use of bright lights in areas near the island’s beaches. They’ve also refrained from building artificial barriers along the shoreline. Environmentally-friendly wastewater treatment and recycling practices at the resort and island homes aim to significantly reduce waste and dispose of it responsibly. A cleaner ocean means better conditions for sea turtles and numerous other marine species found here.
It’s just one more way that the resort and residences at Isla Palenque will blend in harmoniously with our wonderfully fragile surroundings.