On a recent weekday, the sea turtle Bonaire marine science station sits on a beach in southern Chile.
In the middle of the sea, there are thousands of blue and white sea turtles waiting for a mate.
They are one of the fastest growing species of marine turtles in the world.
In Chile, where the turtle population has surged in recent years, there is no sign of a global turtle shortage.
“We can be certain we are not facing a crisis,” says David Caro, the head of the Bonaire station.
The station’s goal is to help the conservation of marine life in Chile by helping scientists and tourists see how sea turtles are changing.
Caro is a marine biologist with the Universidad Católica Chile, and he works with the conservation group PASM, the Conservation Society of Chile, which has partnered with the station for more than 20 years.
“In the past 10 years, we’ve seen the population increase from 150 to 200 sea turtles in Chile, compared to 50 in 2010,” Caro says.
He says he has seen many other turtle stations around the world, but none as large as the one at Bonaire.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Carou said.
The station is on a rocky, sandy beach, but there are signs of life along the way. “
I’ve been at the Bonaires for 25 years, and it’s one of my favorite places to visit.”
The station is on a rocky, sandy beach, but there are signs of life along the way.
There are turtles swimming in the water, some of them are resting.
There is a turtle on a rock and a turtle swimming on top of it.
There’s a turtle sitting on a boat and a group of sea turtles swimming around it.
“The only reason we can see them is because we’re on a clear day and the sun is shining,” Carom says.
“There’s no shadow.
We can see all day long.”
In fact, he says, the entire area of the beach is covered in sea turtles.
In a few days, there will be a dozen sea turtles all swimming around.
Carom is excited to see the new arrivals, but he says it’s not easy to catch the new turtles in time.
“Some of the turtles we catch are so young, they can’t even see what they’re seeing,” he says.
There isn’t a lot of information about the numbers of sea turtle species in Chile and the area of Chile.
However, a 2007 study from the U.S. Geological Survey showed that the total number of sea animals in Chile was about 100,000, including a number of small and large species, including the Chilean white sea turtle.
The U.N. World Wildlife Fund also estimated that the country’s sea turtle population could be as high as 350,000.
Caroom says it would be tough to catch all the turtles, because the area is so remote.
“For a turtle to live there, it has to be there for a long time,” he said.
He also says that the area could become more dangerous with tourism and industrial development.
“When I’m doing my research, I often get asked about a lot more threats,” Caroom said.
For example, there’s a lot going on with fishing.
“A lot of fishermen are coming into Chile illegally,” he explains.
“They come to Chile illegally because they think it’s easier for them to make a living from fishing.”
It’s also easier for the tourists to see sea turtles, since they have little to no natural predators to fear.
“Tourists think they can see turtles because they’re so small and they look like they’re jumping up and down,” Carome said.
But there are a few things that tourists should watch out for, he said, including people walking on the beach.
“And when you walk on the shore, there could be turtles that are sitting there.
There could be a little turtle in the sand, but I wouldn’t be afraid of it.”
With all the research and new arrivals coming into the area, Caroom is excited about the next wave of sea creatures to come to the region.
“You’re always going to see turtles, you’re always gonna see turtles in these places,” he concludes.
“But now it’s going to be exciting to see a lot better turtle numbers in the future.”
This story was produced by CBC Chile.
For more information about conservation, please visit www.chileanenvironment.org.