|Table of Contents|
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Conservation and ecotourism: The social context
Chapter 2. The village of Tortuguero
Chapter 3. Learning about Tortuguero: Interviews, surveys, and permit data
Chapter 4. The turtle guides and the turtle tour
Chapter 5. Who are the guides of Tortuguero?
Chapter 6. Conclusion
Appendix A. Survey instrument
Appendix B. Institutional review board protocol and approval letter
ATTITUDES OF LOCAL GUIDES TOWARD ECOTOURISM, SEA TURTLE
CONSERVATION, AND GUIDING IN TORTUGUERO, COSTA RICA
JOCELYN D. PESKIN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
First and foremost, I would like to thank the local guides and other residents of
Tortuguero for taking the time to share their thoughts and opinions about ecotourism, the
guide program, and sea turtles. Without their help, this research would not have been
Field work was funded by the TCD Field Research Grant. Matt Marsik
created the maps for this thesis.
I am grateful to the staff of Tortuguero National Park for allowing me access to
their permit data and for their candid discussions about the history and the current reality
of the guide program. The CCC also provided invaluable support and advice regarding
carrying out research in Tortuguero. I would like to extend special thanks to the CCC's
current Scientific Director, Sebastian Trodng, for his constant enthusiasm for this project,
as well as for all of our thought-provoking conversations about conservation in general.
My supervisory committee provided an extraordinary source of support and
greatly improved this work through their astute constructive criticism. I would like to
thank Dr. Karen Bjorndal for her keen attention to detail and for clarifying historical facts
that only someone with many years of experience in Tortuguero could provide. Dr. Nigel
Smith first encouraged the pursuit of this project, and I am thankful for his support in
getting me started on this research in the first place. Dr. Lisa Campbell, who balances
perfectly her roles as friend and mentor, has influenced me in many ways since our first
chance meeting on an isolated Costa Rican beach so many years ago. I will be forever
grateful for the direction she has given me, both personal and academic. My committee
chair, Dr. Ed Malecki, has demonstrated great patience and kindness while guiding me
through the thesis-writing process and always made sure that I chose the correct path
when I found myself at a crossroads.
Without the unflagging support (both logistical and emotional) of my family
through all of my far-flung and far-fetched adventures, the completion of this master's
degree would not have been possible. I am grateful for their encouragement of my
academic pursuits and for helping me keep my goals in perspective. Finally, I would like
to thank my husband, Jaime, for his love and support and for somehow finding the
patience to survive the inevitable insanity of living with me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOW LEDGMENTS ................................................ ii
A BSTRA CT .......................................................... vi
1 CONSERVATION AND ECOTOURISM: THE SOCIAL CONTEXT ........... I
Introduction ......................................................... 1
Conservation and Ecotourism: An Overview ............................... 3
Top-Down Natural Resource Management ................................. 4
Community-Based Conservation: The Alternative to Top-Down Management ..... 4
Costa Rica, Ecotourism, and Protected Areas ............................... 9
Ecotourism Guides: Gaps in the Literature ................................ 12
2 THE VILLAGE OF TORTUGUERO .................................... 14
Tortuguero: The Place ................................................ 14
The Sea Turtles of Tortuguero .......................................... 17
People, Culture, and Economy .......................................... 18
Archie Carr and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation .................... 20
Tortuguero National Park .............................................. 23
Ecotourism in Tortuguero ............................................. 24
3 LEARNING ABOUT TORTUGUERO: INTERVIEWS, SURVEYS, AND
PERM IT DATA .................................................. 27
Site Justification: Why Tortuguero for This Study? ......................... 27
Data Collection and Analysis ........................................... 27
Participant Observation ............................................... 28
Lim itations of the Study ............................................... 33
4 THE TURTLE GUIDES AND THE TURTLE TOUR ....................... 35
Why Guides are Necessary on the Beaches of Tortuguero .................... 35
"Turtle Guiding" in Tortuguero: The Beginnings of the Guide Association ....... 36
5 WHO ARE THE GUIDES OF TORTUGUERO? ........................... 44
Guide Dem ographics ................................................. 44
Econom ic Indicators ................................................. 46
A ttitude D ata ....................................................... 50
6 CONCLUSION ..................................................... 62
Practical Recommendations for the Turtle Guiding Initiative in Tortuguero ...... 64
Suggestions for Future Research ........................................ 64
A SURVEY INSTRUMENT ............................................. 66
B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD PROTOCOL AND APPROVAL
LETTER ........................ ............................... 71
REFEREN CES ........................................................ 73
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................................. 81
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
ATTITUDES OF LOCAL GUIDES TOWARD ECOTOURISM, SEA TURTLE
CONSERVATION, AND GUIDING IN TORTUGUERO, COSTA RICA
Jocelyn D. Peskin
Chair: Dr. Edward J. Malecki
Major Department: Geography
Ecotourism is a growing phenomenon often cited as an economically and
biologically sustainable livelihood strategy that will, if done correctly, shift economic
benefits to local communities affected by resource use restrictions. In the case of
Tortuguero, turtles are what lured the original residents to the area, and these residents
harvested the turtles for both subsistence and commercial purposes. Over time,
Tortuguero's turtles have become an attraction for both foreign and Costa Rican tourists,
and the village's economy currently revolves around the ecotourism industry brought
about by the turtles (and, to a lesser extent, the surrounding rainforest).
In Tortuguero, the turtle guides are the most directly involved with the turtles and
their conservation, and benefit directly from the nonconsumptive value the turtles have
acquired as a result of ecoturism. Although incorporating local guides into ecotourism
initiatives is often cited as a strategy for devolving economic gain to the local
community, no studies have ever been conducted to explore the reality of these claims.
This study uses a five-point Likert-Like survey along with permit data to analyze
local guides' attitudes toward sea turtle conservation, ecotourism, and guiding. The
distribution of the number of tourists (as an indicator of income) between local and
outside guides, and the distribution of tourists among the local guides during the 1999
nesting season in Tortuguero, Costa Rica were also analyzed.
For the 1999 nesting season, the local guides obtained significantly more permits
than the outside guides, and the permit distribution among the local guides is not highly
unequal. Most guides agree that the arrival of foreign tourists is improving the quality of
life in Tortuguero and that their jobs as guides has significantly increased their income.
The older guides and long-term resident guides believe that local residents should have
the right to consume a limited amount of turtle meat.
Although the guides overall share a positive attitude regarding ecotourism and
guiding, they only represent a small portion of Tortuguero's population. More in-depth
research is needed at the household level to gain a better overall perspective of how
ecotourism is affecting the community of Tortuguero.
CONSERVATION AND ECOTOURISM: THE SOCIAL CONTEXT
Since human beings first walked the earth, our survival as living organisms has
depended on the natural resources available to us. As human populations increase all
over the world, stress on the earth's natural resource base also increases, and the reality
of natural resource depletion has become a growing concern to many of us. Although we
will always depend on the natural resource base the earth provides, new strategies for
wiser natural resource use and conservation have emerged in an attempt to alleviate the
strains growing human populations and industry put on the earth's natural systems.
Only within the past few decades have conservation practitioners sought the
active participation of the local human populations in establishing conservation
measures. Recent insights into successful conservation address the notion that local
communities adversely affected by externally imposed natural resource use restrictions
should receive some economic benefit to counterbalance the "cost" of the lost access to
previously utilized natural resources. Today, ecotourism is a growing phenomenon often
cited as an economically and biologically sustainable livelihood strategy that will, if done
correctly, shift the benefits to local communities affected by resource use restrictions.
The logic is as follows: communities that consume a given natural resource (either for
subsistence or commercial purposes) will eventually decrease or halt consumption of the
resource if they can receive equal or greater benefits by not consuming it. In the case of
ecotourism, if other people are willing to pay money to observe the resource, then the
local communities can receive economic benefits for conserving the resource rather than
In Tortuguero, the turtles are what lured the original residents to the area. In fact,
loosely translated, "Tortuguero" literally means "Place of the Turtle." Green sea turtles
nest in massive numbers on the beaches of Tortuguero, and the early residents harvested
the turtles for both subsistence and commercial purposes. Over time, Tortuguero's
turtles have become an attraction for tourists. Sea turtles are not exactly the cuddliest of
creatures, but there is certainly some sense of magic and prehistory when observing these
animals and their instinctual nesting behavior. The mystique surrounding marine turtles
brings thousands of people to Tortuguero's beaches each year, and the economy of the
village (now more than six times its original population) currently revolves around the
tourist industry brought about by the turtles and, to a lesser extent, the surrounding
rainforest and sportfishing. This gives rise to several questions. Are the benefits of
ecotourism shared among community members? Is the quality of life improving in
Tortuguero? Are the residents content with the influx of foreigners and the changes this
influx brings? Do the residents value the turtles in a different light?
This study focuses on the local turtle guides' attitudes toward ecotourism,
guiding, and sea turtle conservation in Tortuguero. Local guides are the most directly
involved with the turtles and their conservation, and benefit directly from the
nonconsumptive value the turtles have acquired as a result of ecotourism. Although
incorporating local guides into ecotourism initiatives is often cited as a strategy for
devolving economic gain to the local community, no studies exploring the reality of these
claims have been conducted. Moreover, the opinions and attitudes of local guides have
never been addressed, yet their insights and overall perspective will ultimately determine
the success or failure of a guiding program.
This study first discusses the community-based conservation and ecotourism
literature in this chapter as an overview of the history of community involvement in
conservation and ecotourism. Chapter 2 then presents the history of Tortuguero and the
changing value of the natural resources. Chapter 3 explains the research methods, and
Chapter 4 describes the current intricacies of turtle guiding in Tortuguero. The results of
the survey and permit data analysis are presented and implications discussed in Chapter
5. Chapter 6 concludes this study with suggestions for Tortuguero's guide program and
recommendations for future research.
Conservation and Ecotourism: An Overview
The idea of "conservation," now prevalent in academic literature and practitioner
publications, has evolved over time from a protectionist "top-down" approach to a more
"community-based" philosophy that seeks to reconcile natural resource use at the
community level with economically and environmentally sustainable livelihoods. This
chapter reviews the change in approach to conservation, and then discusses how
ecotourism theoretically falls within the context of current community-based
conservation philosophy as an environmentally friendly and economically sustainable
development strategy. Various definitions of ecotourism are reviewed, and both positive
and negative aspects of ecotourism are presented. The chapter then goes on to explore
the link between ecotourism and protected areas in Costa Rica, and finally closes with a
discussion about gaps in the literature regarding ecotourism guides and how this study in
Tortuguero, Costa Rica attempts to address the hole in guide literature.
Top-Down Natural Resource Management
Until the mid 1980s, the protectionist approach to natural resource conservation
was common, and resulted in top-down decision-making and management strategies that
excluded local communities from the policy-making process even though the local
communities were oftentimes the most affected by the changes (Campbell 2000,
Metcalfe 1994). Most top-down natural resource management strategies were manifested
in the form of parks and protected areas where people were removed from designated
protected areas and prohibited from using or consuming the resources within them (Place
1988, 1991; Western and Wright 1994; Campbell 2000,2002). Managing protected
areas and natural resource use in isolation from, or in opposition to, local people and their
culture causes conflict, mistrust, resentment, and criticism (Barrow et al. 1995, Bailey et
al. 1995, Agrawal and Gibson 1999, Western and Wright 1994). In the past two decades,
the importance of community participation in conservation efforts has been recognized
and is slowly being put into practice all over the globe.
Community-Based Conservation: The Alternative to Top-Down Management
The areas of the world with the highest biodiversity generally overlap
geographically with indigenous groups, and this link has brought attention to the idea that
indigenous groups and rural communities should play more significant roles in
conservation efforts (Marquette 1999). Community participation in natural resource
conservation and management has recently been recognized as a critical factor in
successful conservation efforts as it facilitates the involvement of local residents, who are
often the most important allies in biodiversity conservation (Bodmer et al. 1997,
Robinson and Bodmer 1999, Solis Rivera and Cruz 1997, Warner 1997, West and
Brechin 1991, Western and Wright 1994). It has been argued that this new alternative of
community participation in conservation fosters a sense of ownership on the part of the
community, while using the local knowledge and ethics concerning the region to
conserve the resources that are drastically declining (Chisen 1999).
The Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, linked the
socio-economic needs of local populations and biodiversity conservation. This
convention, signed by over 150 countries, brought the importance of biodiversity
conservation, local communities, and their social and economic well-being to the
international agenda (Cater and Lowman 1994). International organizations that have
historically been involved with planning, implementing, funding, and developing
conservation projects and protected areas have recently put more emphasis on
community participation in conservation and have incorporated these principles into their
policy (Agrawal and Gibson 1999, Freese 1996, Tandon 1999, UNEP and WWF 1991).
Wainwright and Wehrmeyer (1998) refer to this shift from top-down conservation
strategies to a more people-oriented approach as a new "development paradigm." This
new development paradigm focuses on rural people's involvement in conservation
activities while also promoting economic and social development (Wilson 1988). The
intertwining of development and conservation gave rise to community-based
conservation (CBC)-a participatory model that recognizes the need for natural resource
conservation to offer tangible benefits to the communities involved (Abbot et al. 2001,
Lewis et al. 1990, Munasinghe and McNeely 1994, Wainwright and Wehrmeyer 1998,
Wells et al. 1992, Western and Wright 1994). The goal of CBC is to provide an
economic incentive for local people to conserve and protect the natural resources while
also changing the attitudes and behaviors of local people to reflect more support for
conservation efforts (Abbot et al. 2001, Gibson and Marks 1995). Countless CBC
projects have been initiated all over the world, with innovative names such as Integrated
Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) (Abbot et al. 2001), Community-Based
Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) (Wainwright and Wehrmeyer 1998), and
Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE)
(Metcalfe 1994, Cater and Lowman 1994).
Wainwright and Wehrmeyer's (1998) evaluation of a CBNRM project found that
the project's goals of decreasing poaching through integration of wildlife management
with the rural economy by increasing local-level participation and decision making have
largely been unmet. Their study, undertaken eight years after the implementation of the
CBNRM project was initiated, found that the program did not increase interactions
between the local communities and the governing authorities. Also, 57% of their survey
respondents claimed that their standard of living did not improve through the project's
activities. Attitudes toward wildlife have improved, but these attitude changes have not
manifested themselves in a clear change in conservation ethic or a decrease in natural
In contrast, Abbot and Thomas (2001) found that the people more active in the
ICDP showed more positive attitudes toward the project. Participants often cited tangible
benefits from the project (e.g., increased crop yields through erosion control, decreased
conflict between farmer and grazer due to new fencing techniques) as reasons for their
positive attitudes. Abbot and Thomas (2001) suggest that "only if positive attitudes
translate to management practices which support conservation have conservation
objectives been met" (p. 1129). Their work claims that positive attitudes have also
changed behavior to more forest-friendly activities, thus linking local-level benefits with
successful conservation strategies.
Of course, as Wainwright and Wehrmeyer (1998) point out, there is no
universally accepted blueprint for successful community-based conservation projects.
Each community and its circumstances are unique and need to be considered on a case-
by-case basis. The overall success of CBC initiatives, both in theory and in practice, is
still open to debate (Agrawal and Gibson 1999, Alpert 1996, Barret and Arcese 1995,
Brandon and Wells 1992, Oates 1995). However, local communities are more likely to
support natural resource conservation if they receive some benefit that counterbalances
the costs paid for decreased access to the natural resources traditionally used in the past.
Ecotourism has been proposed as one possible solution to this conservation conundrum.
In the last decade or so, ecotourism has been promoted as a sustainable,
nonconsumptive remedy for many conservation ills plaguing the world's less developed
countries (Boo 1990). According to the International Union for the Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) definition, ecotourism entails not only a low-impact enjoyment of nature
for the tourist, but also involves a component that provides for sustainable and beneficial
socio-economic involvement of local populations (Ceballos-Lascurdin 1993).
Although the origin of the term ecotourism is not clearly identified (Honey 1999,
Fennell 1999), the concept of ecotourism can be traced to the mid 1950s with the work of
Hetzer (1965), who was the first to explore and document the relationships between
tourists and the environment and cultures they visit (Hetzer 1965, Fennell 1999). Today,
many definitions of ecotourism exist, and the main principles of these definitions vary.
Some definitions focus on natural resource conservation (Duncan and Dangerfield 1999)
while others incorporate local economic development as a key factor (TIES 2000,
Goodwin 1996, and Fennell 1999). The International Ecotourism Society's (TIES)
definition incorporates both the natural resource and socio-economic aspects and states
that ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and
improves the welfare of local people" (Honey 1999, TIES 2000). No single definition of
ecotourism has been unanimously agreed upon, but for the purposes of this study the
above-mentioned IUCN definition will be used as it addresses both environmental and
socio-cultural aspects of ecotourism-both of which are important in the case of
Potential Impacts of Ecotourism
Although ecotourism provides many potential benefits to the local community
and surrounding ecosystems (i.e., nonconsumptive use strategies to increase income),
negative impacts can also occur if ecotourism is not managed properly. If limits are not
established at the onset of ecotourism initiatives, the physical impacts of an increasing
number of visitors can potentially destroy the ecosystems or natural feature that attracts
ecotourism. In addition to environmental degradation, the increase in visitors may also
spoil the feeling of "getting away from it all," which can then result in a decline in
visitors (Boo 1990). The instability of the ecotourism industry (often influenced by
uncontrollable factors such as bad weather, political circumstances, currency
fluctuations, and trends in tourism) has also been cited as a negative impact of
ecotourism (Boo 1990, Jacobson and Robles 1992), particularly if local economies have
become dependent on ecotourism as its main income source. Another concern expressed
by Boo (1990) and G6ssling (1996) entails leakages of income generated by ecotourism.
If most profits fall into the hands of international corporations and foreign investors, then
ecotourism is doing little to benefit the local community while these local residents pay
the costs of conservation.
If local communities benefit economically from ecotourism, another set of
potential negative impacts can be outlined. Lindberg et al. (1996), Scheyvens (1999),
and Wunder (2000) express concern over unequal distribution of income and
employment opportunities among the local residents. Unequal distribution of income
and jobs can lead to conflict within the community, as well as to local inflation.
Social and cultural change resulting from ecotourism is also of concern (Boo
1990, HaySmith and Harvey 1995, Scheyvens 1999), and increased crime, drug use, and
prostitution are often cited as negative impacts resulting from ecotourism development
(Honey 1999, Fennell 1999). Scheyvens (1999) developed an empowerment framework
for analyzing success or failure of ecotourism ventures (see Table I-1), and this
framework outlines both the potential positive and potential negative outcomes of
ecotourism on local communities. Although the parameters outlined in the framework
are often blurred and can be considered stages in an evolving process, this framework can
be a helpful tool for evaluating the overall positive and negative aspects of Tortuguero's
turtle guide program evaluated in this study.
Costa Rica, Ecotourism, and Protected Areas
Many countries around the world dedicate some proportion of their land to
protected areas for conservation purposes. Costa Rica has set aside over 25% of its total
land area to protected area status for conservation purposes (PACTo 1997), and Costa
Rica's protected areas comprise over 11% of all land area in Central America under
IUCN protected area status (HaySmith and Harvey 1995). With the Law of Tourism
Incentives passed in 1986, Costa Rica set precedent by establishing tourism as a national
Table 1-1. Summary of Scheyvens' (1999) framework for determining ecotourism
impacts on local communities
Sphere of Signs of empowerment Signs of disempowerment
Economic lasting economic gains to small, erratic economic gains for
income distributed among many profit leakages to outside operators
households in community or government agencies
tangible improvements from few individuals or households gain
increased income direct financial benefit
Psychological self-esteem of community many pay costs of reduced access
members enhanced and pride in to natural resources, but don't share
unique resources increased in benefits
increased confidence leads those that pay costs but don't
community members to seek more receive benefits show signs of
education and training frustration and disinterest in
opportunities ecotourism initiative
increased access to employment
opportunities increases status of
women and youth
Social improved community cohesion disharmony and social decay
a portion of funds raised through members of community assimilate
ecotourism initiative used for outside values
community development loss of respect for traditions and
groups within community compete
with each other rather than
resentment and jealousy increase
among community members
Political e community political structure autocratic, self-interested
represents all community groups leadership
community political structure initiators/implementors of
allows open discussion of ecotourism venture don't involve
ecotourism venture community members in all stages
community political structure of venture as equals
provides opportunity for members
of community groups to be
represented on decision-making
priority, and Costa Rica's protected areas are responsible for much of Costa Rica's
ecotourism (Boo 1990, HaySmith and Harvey 1995). It should be noted that Costa
Rica's commitment to protecting natural areas is unique, and Costa Rica has the only
military-free government in the Central American isthmus. Because of Costa Rica's
extraordinary natural history and diversity, as well as its lack of political strife that often
plagues its neighbors, Costa Rica needs to be examined as a unique case in conservation
and ecotourism, and can not be considered a model that other nations are expected to be
able to emulate without modification.
When an area becomes legally protected for conservation purposes, local
residents often pay the costs of protection; namely (as in the case of Tortuguero), the
local residents may no longer have access to natural resources they once utilized (Place
1988). Consequently, biodiversity conservation cannot be separated from social and
economic development of the communities adjacent to protected areas. Protected area
management has seen a shift toward integrating development, allowing conservation to
be compatible with sustainable (mostly nonconsumptive) uses (Boo 1990, G6ssling
1999). Ecotourism is a common alternative proposed as a means to link economic
incentives with natural resource preservation in areas where adjacent communities have
been affected by the establishment of a protected area (Boo 1990, Honey 1999, Wunder
2000). Many authors (Bogdonov and Henry 1995, HaySmith and Harvey 1995, Lee and
Snepenger 1992, Wall 1997, Doan 2000, Place 1991) assert that communities must
receive economic benefits in order for ecotourism efforts to be successful. Training local
residents as tour guides has been suggested as a method of funneling economic benefits
of protected areas and ecotourism efforts to the local level (Place 1991, Jacobson and
Robles 1992, Jacobson and Lopez 1994, Bookbinder et al. 1998, Fennell and Eagles
1990, Vieitas et al. 1999, Paaby et al. 1991).
Ecotourism Guides: Gaps in the Literature
As guiding is often identified as a local benefit of ecotourism, analysis of such
claims is necessary in order to evaluate whether guiding is, in fact, beneficial to local
communities that host ecotourism (marine turtle-oriented ecotourism in the case of
Tortuguero), and whether guiding opportunities are evenly distributed throughout the
guide population. In addition, the guides' opinions and attitudes toward conservation and
ecotourism are important indicators of success or failure of a guiding initiative.
Twenty years ago, Holloway (1981) noted the scarcity of studies concerning
guides and tours, and this observation still holds true today (Ap and Wong 2001). The
few published studies on guiding mostly discuss guide training workshops (Vieitas et al.
1999, Jacobson and Robles 1992, Black et al. 2001) or pilot projects (Paaby et al. 1991,
Shephard and Royston-Airey 2000) where long-term evaluation and analysis of the social
and economic impacts of guiding are notably absent. The only attempt to evaluate the
nature of traditional tour guiding was published by Ap and Wong (2001), and this study
focuses on the professionalism and standards of the industry in Hong Kong.
If international organizations, institutions, governments, conservation
practitioners, and researchers are to continue to claim that local guides' participation in
ecotourism benefits the local communities involved, evidence in research is needed to
support these claims. This study attempts to evaluate the local guides' attitudes toward
ecotourism, sea turtle conservation, and the guiding program in Tortuguero, Costa Rica,
and to evaluate whether the local community is benefitting from the guiding program.
This study does not explore local attitudes toward Tortuguero National Park or the
community's relationship with the nearby NGO (Caribbean Conservation Corporation),
as similar studies have already been conducted (Campbell in press, Place 1988). The
following chapter provides a description of Tortuguero, the people who live there, and
the turtles that nest there.
THE VILLAGE OF TORTUGUERO
Along with the lush and wildlife-filled rainforest, canals, and black sand
Caribbean beaches that outline the village, the beaches of Tortuguero host the largest
green turtle nesting population in the Greater Caribbean, and the village is home to many
descendants of ancestors from insular and continental Caribbean. Tourists are attracted
to Tortuguero mainly by the promise of witnessing a green turtle nest, and most tourists
pay a short visit to Tortuguero as part of a longer trip exploring the numerous other
tourist destinations in Costa Rica.
This chapter explores some of the detailed physical characteristics of Tortuguero,
and then continues on to discuss the sea turtles that make the place so popular. In order
to understand the social complexities of Tortuguero, an overview of the culture and
economy precedes the section explaining the roles of Archie Carr and the Carribean
Conservation Corporation (CCC) in shaping both the past and the present story of the
village. Next, the chapter presents background information regarding Tortuguero
National Park (TNP) before discussing ecotourism and its influence on the village of
Tortuguero: The Place
Tortuguero is situated on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica (lat 100 37' N, long
830 33'W), about 50 kilometers south of the Nicaraguan border (see Figure 2-1). The
volcanic black sand beach is approximately 35 kilometers long, and adjacent to the beach
is an area of lowland rainforest. Tortuguero is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica
(Place 1991), with an average annual rainfall of 6000 mm (236.2 inches) (PACTo 1997).
Tortuguero's rainy season lasts from May through October, which overlaps with the main
green turtle nesting season (July through September). The skies are cloudy
approximately 330 days of the year (PACTo 1997).
Figure 2-1. Map of Costa Rica. Map by Matt Marsik. Adapted from
www.maproom.psu.edu/dcu. Accessed January 10, 2002.
Tortuguero lies on a long barrier island that is separated from the mainland by natural
rivers and estuaries and by man-made canals (see Figure 2-2). Because of the difficulties
imposed by the climate, drainage, and vegetation, increased settlement and construction of
infrastructure were not common until the 1990s (Place 1991). Currently, the only way to
arrive in Tortuguero is by boat through the canals or by a small plane.
83*4W 830 83*0 er310
Figure 2-2. Tortuguero and Environs. Map by Matt Marsik. Adapted from
www.maproom.psu.edu/dcu. Accessed January 10, 2002.
Due to Tortuguero's normally wet and overcast weather conditions, those seeking
a typical "sun and sand" Caribbean vacation will likely be disappointed. Some tourists,
discouraged by the heavy rains, decline the opportunity to watch a green turtle nest or hike
in Tortuguero National Park; however, the rich diversity of Tortuguero's flora and fauna on
the beaches, in the forest, and through the canals provide numerous recreational activities
for tourists visiting Tortuguero to engage in.
The Sea Turtles of Tortuguero
Of the world's seven species of sea turtle, four are known to nest at Tortuguero.
The hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) are the
least common, and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) has a limited nesting season
(late February through early July) just before the major nesting season of the green turtle
(Chelonia mydas). Tortuguero is the site of the largest and most important green sea
turtle rookery in the Western Hemisphere (ICT and ACTo 1999,' Bjorndal and Bolten
1992, Bjorndal et al. 1999, PACTo 1997, Wille 1991), with the major nesting season
falling in July through September. Because of the migratory nature of sea turtles, turtles
from this population disperse throughout the Greater Caribbean and beyond, and the
status of many green turtle populations in other nations in the Greater Caribbean region
depends on the nesting population in Tortuguero (Bjorndal et al. 1999).
Marine turtles in Central America and the Caribbean have long provided coastal
and island residents with an abundant and high quality source of protein through the
consumption of turtle meat, eggs, and calipee,2 as well as a source of income from selling
turtle products (Carr 1956, Damon and Vaughn 1995, Lagueux 1998, Nietschmann
1973). The green turtle is especially sought-after as the main ingredient in turtle soup,
and the abundance of nesting green turtles in Tortuguero drew the attention of the turtle
soup industry in the first half of the twentieth century (Parsons 1962).
'Although the Guide Manual has no date printed on the document, this document was
used in the 1999 Guide Training Workshop and was published just before the workshop
'An edible, gelatinous substance found beneath the lower shell of a turtle. Known to
add flavor to turtle soup.
In the mid 1950s, concern grew for the Tortuguero green turtle population, which
was suffering intense exploitation by turtlers ("veladores") and sold to the national and
international markets. This exploitation is thought to have influenced the decline in the
green turtle population at the time. Although there are fluctuations in the population of
the Tortuguero green turtles in the past quarter century, the most recent trend is an
upward one. However, it would be premature to call this upward trend permanent, and
due to so many uncertainties about the green turtle lifecycle and its overall longevity, we
can't directly attribute the nesting population's increase to the recent conservation efforts
now in place in Tortuguero (Bjomdal et al. 1999).
People, Culture, and Economy
Walton Martinez and his family were the first to settle in Tortuguero in the early
1930s. Martinez was of Afro-Caribbean descent and came from the island of San Andres,
where he worked as a sea captain. While in Tortuguero, Martinez and his family lived on
the natural resources the land and the sea provided them. When he died, Martinez's land
was divided among seven of his nine children, and descendants of Martinez still live in
Tortuguero today (Lefever 1992, personal observation).
The economy of Tortuguero has relied upon the exploitation of natural resources,
and the sea turtles in particular, for both commercial and subsistence uses. Since its
foundation, several industries have exploited the natural resources of Tortuguero, thus
instigating boom and bust cycles in the village's economy and population.
Throughout the decades, the abundant green turtle nesting population has played
an important role in the diet and culture of the people of Tortuguero, and was the basis
for the first real economic boom in the village. Villagers depended on the green turtle for
meat and eggs, and also sold the turtles and their eggs to companies in Lim6n (refer to
Figure 2-1), the closest major port city. The villagers earned money by claiming a
section of beach, turning nesting turtles on their backs, marking and tying a piece of
wood to her flipper (so the "middle men" would know who caught the turtle), and setting
the turtle back to sea in the morning so a ship waiting outside the surf could pick them up
and bring them to Lim6n. Some people would come from nearby areas to participate in
the turtle harvesting, and the companies would provide food and rustic shelter on the
beach for each turtler (personal communication former turtler, Lefever 1992).
In the 1960s the international market for sea turtles decreased (Parsons 1962),
probably because of newly adopted endangered species legislation in many countries, and
in the 1970s the decreased turtle populations (due to overexploitation) and new
conservation initiatives led to the decline of the commercial turtling industry (Place 1988,
The export lumber industry came to Tortuguero in the 1940s, and in the 1950s
and 1960s a sawmill built in Tortuguero accounted for another big boom in the village.
During the years of the sawmill, Tortuguero's population increased, and during this time
a school and a general store appeared for the first time. Many of the newcomers were
also of Afro-Caribbean descent and came from the island of San Andres (Lefever 1992).
By the 1970s, valuable timber around Tortuguero had declined and the sawmills
closed. People began to leave Tortuguero in search of work, and the population
decreased to about 150 in 1986 (Place 1991, Lefever 1992, personal communication local
resident). After the decline of the timber industry, those who remained (many of them
from the original families) reverted back to subsistence farming, hunting, and fishing,
and were able to survive with virtually no cash income (Place 1988 and 1991).
Until the 1970s, Tortuguero was difficult to get to because of the rough seas, and
the lack of communication and infrastructure. However, in the mid-I 970s, a man-made
canal was completed that linked Tortuguero to mainland Costa Rica. At about the same
time the canal was completed Tortuguero National Park was established, which limited
the villagers' access to the natural resources they once used for subsistence (Place 1991).
With the newly established national park and canal system, more and more visitors began
arriving in Tortuguero and today tourism is the main source of income in the village.
This new economic boom has brought another wave of immigration to the village, and it
is now estimated that there are about 600 residents living in Tortuguero today (Campbell
in press, ICT and ACTo 1999).
Archie Carr and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation
In the mid-1950s, American biologist Archie Carr arrived in Tortuguero to learn
more about the green turtle, but before Carr began his studies little was known about the
biology and ecology of marine turtles. Today, the late Dr. Carr is fondly known as the
"father of sea turtle conservation". Carr and his students conducted studies exploring the
sea-finding and nesting behavior of the green turtles (Bjorndal and Carr 1989, Eherenfeld
1967) and the similarities and differences in reproductive biology of the hawksbill and
green turtle populations nesting on the beaches of Tortuguero (Bjomdal et al. 1985).
Carr's early students have followed in his footsteps and have gone on to study different
species of sea turtles at study sites all over the world (Bjorndal 1998; Bjorndal et al.
1999; Meylan 1988, Meylan 1998; Mortimer 1999 a, b), as well as become pioneers of
conservation biology in general (Ehrenfeld 1970, Ehrenfeld 2000).
In order to learn about migration patterns of the green turtles nesting on
Tortuguero's beach, Carr began to tag the turtles' front flippers (Carr 1984, Carr et al.
1978). Carr employed local villagers to assist in flipping the turtles on their backs after
they finished laying their eggs so the turtles could be tagged the following morning. The
"turtle turners" reported to a local resident Carr hired to oversee the tagging operation,
and Carr's initiative to employ local residents to turn and tag turtles was the first time
monetary compensation was extended for a turtle for reasons other then consumption.3
To recover the information from the turtle tags, Carr offered five dollars for every flipper
tag returned to him (Wille 1991). This "reward" for the flipper tag was often collected
from Carr by turtlers who retrieved the flipper tags from turtles they had harvested, thus
the reward offered by Carr for returned flipper tags can not be considered a conservation
Carr began to monitor Tortuguero's nesting population of green turtles in 1971.
In order to help him do so, he hired a few local villagers to do track count surveys4 on a
regular basis. Again, Carr provided a source of income based on the nonconsumptive use
of sea turtles-a concept new to the people of Tortuguero at the time.
In 1959, a nongovernmental organization called the Brotherhood of the Green
Turtle, later renamed the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC), formed in order to
support Carr's research efforts (Parsons 1962). Today, the CCC continues the tagging
project initiated by Car in the 1950s, and is the longest-running sea turtle tagging
program in the world. The CCC attracts research assistants and volunteers from all over
the world to help tagging efforts and biometric data collection during the main green
3The CCC no longer endorses the method of turning turtles in order to apply flipper
4A method of estimating nesting turtle populations whereby a biologist or field
assistant walks the beach early in the morning, counts the number of turtle tracks present
on the beach, and determines whether the female laid eggs.
turtle and leatherback nesting seasons. These research assistants and volunteers live at
the CCC research station, which is a five-minute walk down the beach from the town of
Tortuguero (refer to Figure 2-2). The CCC research station now provides employment
opportunities (positions as cooks, grounds-keepers, track surveyors) to the families of
those who were once harvesting the turtles for a living. In fact, the CCC research station
was, at one time, one of the most important sources of income for the people of
Tortuguero (Place 1988). Today, the research assistants and volunteers from the CCC
often go to the village of Tortuguero for an evening out or to purchase something from
one of the small stores in town. Thus the CCC station, although physically separate from
Tortuguero, provides economic benefit to the village as well.
Tortuguero is now touted as an example of a symbiosis between a local
community and a natural area (Honey 1999, McConahay 1993), but because the CCC
was actively involved in the process of legally protecting the sea turtles and the area of
beach and rainforest that is now Tortuguero National Park (TNP), conflict often arose
between the CCC and the local people. Tourism is what eased the transition from
conflict and, although problems still exist in Tortuguero, the income from tourism helped
in finding the balance between the CCC's promotion of conservation and the
community's need to earn a living (Campbell in press).
Sebastian Trodng, the CCC's current scientific director, has actively promoted a
positive relationship between the CCC and the community, and although the CCC's main
focus is on monitoring and studying the sea turtle population, the CCC supports many
community development projects in Tortuguero. The CCC has been trying to
demonstrate to the people of Tortuguero that the turtles "are worth more alive than dead"
(Trodng personal communication).
Tortuguero National Park
Costa Rica has dedicated over 25 percent of its total land area to protected area
status, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Energy
(MINAE-Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia). Costa Rica's park system is divided into
regions and Tortuguero National Park (TNP), along with seven other protected areas of
various protected area categories, make up El Area de Conservaci6n Llanuras del
Tortuguero (ACTo) located in the northeastern comer of the country (PACTo 1997).
With Costa Rican Law number 5680, Tortuguero National Park was officially
established in 1975, mainly to protect the turtles' nesting beach and the adjacent lowland
rainforest. TNP, whose entrance is located at the southern end of the village (see Figure
2-2), is made up of 50,160 hectares of marine territory and 26,156 hectares of rainforest
(PACTo 1997), and at the edge of the rainforest the park encompasses approximately 20
kilometers of the main sea turtle nesting beach. The main sea turtle nesting beach once
extended to Rio Parismina (see Figure 2-2), but in 1994 Rio Sierpe broke through to the
sea after severe storms, and according to Trodng, turtles no longer nest in large numbers
past Rio Sierpe.
As in many similar cases of protected areas around the world, the establishment
of TNP prohibited the use of many natural resources the community had once depended
on. Farming became more difficult, as the land many used to cultivate was bought by the
Costa Rican government for the park, and other farmable land is a long canoe trip from
the village (Place 1988 and 1991). The park employed a small number of villagers
initially, and only one man originally from Tortuguero now holds an administrative
position in the regional park office located in the city of Gudpiles (see Figure 2-1).
The establishment of TNP has attracted an increasing number of tourists to
Tortuguero each year. In 1996, 4124 tourists entered TNP and in 1998 that number
increased four times to 16,742. In 1999 alone, at least 21,559 tourists entered TNP
(Tr6eng 1999), and these numbers are expected to continue growing.
In the first years after the establishment of TNP, the community overall had a
negative attitude toward the park. In fact, almost eleven years after the establishment of
the park, many villagers felt the standard of living was worse than before the park was
created (Place 1988). However, since Place's survey in 1988, tourism in Tortuguero has
boomed (mostly under the guise of "ecotourism"), in part due to the rainforest protected
by TNP. As the villagers prosper from tourism, attitudes toward conservation are
changing. In fact, park personnel now collaborate closely with the local tour/turtle
guides in setting rules and guidelines concerning tours through the park's rainforest and
on the park's beaches.
Ecotourism in Tortuguero
Ecotourism is now one of Costa Rica's main sources of income, and its popularity
has reached even the isolated jungle village of Tortuguero. Several ecolodges5 have
popped up in the area around Tortuguero (mostly owned by foreigners or by Costa
Ricans from the capital city of San Josd), as well as many locally owned cabinas6 and
small restaurants in the village itself. In terms of total number of beds available, 10
5An ecolodge is a hotel usually owned by a foreigner or by somebody from a major
city. Ecolodges often offer all-inclusive excursion packages, provide transportation to
and from the capital city, employ a full-time staff, and generally have a restaurant and
pool on the premises.
6A cabina is usually owned by a local village resident who has built a few rustic rooms
near or attached to their home to rent to tourists. Cabinas are more rustic than ecolodges,
and often the only people working there are family members.
percent of the accomodations in Tortuguero are owned by original inhabitants of the
village, while 52 percent are owned by other Costa Ricans (some of them are now
Tortuguero residents, and others are not), and 38 percent are owned by foreigners (some
now residents of Tortuguero, and others are not) (Campbell and Smith 2001).
Tortuguero's current economy revolves around ecotourism and the newly-found
economic prosperity has attracted new residents from Nicaragua, other parts of Costa
Rica, and even a few from North American and European nations.
Most tourists come to Tortuguero specifically for the sea turtles, but others come
to experience the rainforest or for sportfishing as well (Lee and Snepenger 1992). With
an influx of ecotourists, the people of Tortuguero now realize that there can be enormous
economic gain from maintaining the turtle population and the natural environment intact,
whereas in the past these natural resources were once hunted and cut down for
subsistence and commercial purposes. In fact, many people in the village, when asked
about sea turtle conservation, repeat the CCC's motto that "the sea turtles are worth more
alive than dead" (personal communication, various local guides).
Because the main objectives of ecotourism are to create tourism-related jobs for
local residents (Lindberg et al. 1996) and to preserve natural resources (Wall 1997),
Tortuguero is often used as an example of successful ecotourism. One of the local
groups that benefit from ecotourism is the "turtle guides"-those guides that are trained
and certified to take tourists on a two-hour walk on the beach to observe nesting turtles.
Most of the guides living in Tortuguero over 20 years were once "turtlers" who now earn
their living by bringing tourists to the beach to observe the turtles nest.
According to Scheyvens (1999), many aspects of ecotourism in Tortuguero are
considered signs of community empowerment, including: the guides' community
development efforts; other community-wide improvements such as electricity and houses
made of more permanent materials and increased educational opportunities.
But, there are also signs of social decay (Scheyvens 1999) that warrant some
concern. Drugs and alcohol are becoming increasingly destructive for the younger
generations (personal communication various community elders), and there is the loss of
"sense of self." One sign of cultural change is the recent transition from an Afro-
Caribbean, English-speaking village to a predominantly Ladino, Spanish-speaking town
as migration into Tortuguero has attracted people to jobs such as guiding. Recently there
has also been some sense of tension between the long-term residents of Tortuguero and
the newer residents, especially those from Nicaragua (Campbell in press). These
tensions have been brought about because of perceived competition for employment in
the tourism sector of the local economy. Although one could argue that ecotourism
brings both positive and negative aspects to Tortuguero, there is no doubt that the income
generated from tourism in Tortuguero has profoundly influenced the demographics,
culture, economy, and social fabric of Tortuguero.
The absence of previous research on guiding, the accompanying pros and cons of
this income source, and its effect on the guides' overall attitudes needs to be addressed.
Chapter 3 discusses the methods employed in this study that aims to start filling the gap
in guide literature.
LEARNING ABOUT TORTUGUERO:
INTERVIEWS, SURVEYS, AND PERMIT DATA
Site Justification: Why Tortuguero for This Study?
Due to Tortuguero's long history of sea turtle conservation and its substantial and
highly organized ecotourism industry, it is an ideal site to conduct a study to evaluate the
social and economic effects of guiding on the local community. To date, no in-depth
analysis of the impacts of sea turtle conservation and ecotourism on the Tortuguero
community has been published since Place's study in 1988. However, Place's study was
carried out before guiding was organized and focused mainly on the establishment of
TNP; thus an evaluation of the benefits of guiding will not only assess whether one
aspect of ecotourism is actually benefitting the local community, but will also serve as a
baseline study on which to base further in-depth research.
This chapter outlines, in detail, the methods employed in the data collection and
analysis stages of this study. After describing the different data collection and analysis
techniques for the four data sets acquired, the limitations of the study are also discussed.
Data Collection and Analysis
Four sets of data were collected for this study, and each data collection method
and analysis are described below. All data were collected in Costa Rica from May 21
through July 2, 2000. The four data sets include the following:
Interviews with key informants
Permit data from park records
Attitude survey of local guides
During the time I spent in Tortuguero, I employed the "participant as observer"
approach whereby I observed the daily goings-on in the village and openly revealed the
purpose of my stay in Tortuguero as a researcher (Kitchin and Tate 2000). I participated
in community activities, events, and meetings in order to gain an understanding of the
community overall. Wandering around the village and engaging in casual conversations
provided helpful insights into the community's changing culture and ecotourism's impact
on the village and the people who live there. The information gathered through
participant observation, as well as through interviews with key informants (see next
section) helped me learn when the best time was to survey the local guides and which
controversial figures in the community I should avoid contact with in order to maintain a
neutral reputation. For the first three weeks I was in Tortuguero, I purposely stayed away
from the CCC station in order to avoid any possible biases, and attempted to establish
that I was not representing the CCC in any way. I recorded my observations in a journal
and these observations are noted in Chapters 4 and 5 where pertinent.
Interviews with Key Informants
Informal conversational interviews were conducted with key informants in order
to familiarize myself with the informal social and economic systems that govern the
turtle guides. Key informants were chosen because of their positions of leadership in the
Guide Association and/or in the Community Development Association. Some key
informants were chosen because they own businesses related to the turtle guides' income.
All names are omitted in order to honor the confidentiality promised to the respondents.
Informal conversational interviews were conducted with the following key
Current president of the Guide Association in Tortuguero
Current president of the Tortuguero Community Development Association
Former president of the Tortuguero Community Development Association
and Guide Association (same person, also owns one of the two local souvenir
Native local guide whose family is one of the original families to settle in
The only female guide of the original 10
Two local guides (one male, one female)
Cabina owner and 20 year Tortuguero resident
American-born Tortuguero resident of 15 years (owns one of the two local
Tortuguero National Park employee of seven years
Costa Rican biologist working at the regional ACTo office in Gupiles
The informal conversational interview method lacks formal structure and
encourages respondents to engage in the natural flow of conversation, thus allowing the
respondent to freely discuss any topic within their own frame of reference (Kitchin and
Tate 2000). 1 chose this interview method because it best fits the purpose of the
interviews: to familiarize the researcher with the complex system of turtle guiding in
Tortuguero. Due to the open nature of these conversational interviews, respondents
talked about aspects of guiding previously unknown to me and that I would not have
asked about otherwise, thereby enabling me to gain a more complete understanding of the
complexities associated with guiding in Tortuguero. These informal conversational
interviews also resulted in unsolicited attitudes, opinions, and insights about ecotourism
in general and turtle guiding specifically, and these responses proved invaluable in
gaining a better overall perspective of how ecotourism and turtle guiding impact the
Tortuguero community. All notes from these interviews were recorded in a journal and
are noted where appropriate in Chapters 4 and 5.
Permit Data from Park Records
During the main green turtle nesting season (July through September), the TNP
employees keep daily logs of each turtle guide and the number of permits requested per
guide for each night. Because each permit generally represents one tourist participating
in a turtle tour, and because the guides generally charge a fixed fee per tourist ($5 in
1999, $10 in 2000), the park's permit data can be used as an indicator of income earned
from turtle tours.
All observation, interview, and survey data for this study were collected at the
onset of the 2000 nesting season; therefore I used the park's permit data from the 1999
season in order to obtain an entire season's data. Because the surveys were conducted in
the beginning of the 2000 season, the guides' responses are based on their experiences
from the previous season.
Each weekday morning I walked to the park office at the edge of town and hand-
copied the daily logs from the 1999 season. Upon my return to the United States, I
tallied the permit data for each individual guide. Local guide and outside guide data
were distinguished, then tallied within each group. For the purposes of this study, all
guides permanently residing in Tortuguero year-round are considered local guides. All
others are considered outside guides.
Two local guides' names differ only by their middle initial, which was not
consistently recorded in the park logs. In this case, I tallied all of the permits as
pertaining to one guide, and then divided the total by two in order to estimate a total for
The permit data were analyzed in order to evaluate the following research
Did the local guides obtain significantly more permits than the outside guides
during the 1999 season?
Are the number of permits equally distributed among the local guides?
To evaluate the first research question, a two-sample t-test assuming equal variance was
used to determine if the local guides acquired more permits than the outside guides.
In order to address the second research question concerning the equal distribution
of permits among the local guides, the cumulative percentage of permits was determined,
and then compared to the Lorenz curve. The Lorenz curve is a graphical way to display
the degree of inequality, and the closer the data are to the Lorenz curve, the closer the
distribution is to an equal distribution. For the purposes of this analysis, the two local
guides obtained zero permits were omitted as they did not work as a turtle guide in the
1999 nesting season.
Survey of Local Guides
A complete list of guides certified to take tourists on turtle walks in Tortuguero
was obtained from the park office. The list included all of the guides who successfully
completed the 1999 guide workshop and who possessed a carnet. From this list of 136
guides, 43 were local guides residing in Tortuguero year-round, and 41 of the 43 local
guides were surveyed. The two local guides who were not surveyed were unavailable at
the time the research was conducted.
A five-point Likert-like survey instrument was used to evaluate the local guides'
attitudes toward ecotourism, sea turtle conservation, and turtle guiding in Tortuguero.
The survey instrument received approval from the Institutional Review Board of the
University of Florida, and both the survey (Spanish and English versions)(Appendix A)
and the approval letter (Appendix B) are included in the appendices. Appendix A
contains the list of the questions soliciting socioeconomic and demographic information
of the 41 guides, as well a set of attitude assessment statements. Fourteen of the original
30 attitude assessment statements were later found to be ambiguously worded and are
therefore not analyzed.
Before conducting the surveys in Tortuguero, both the English and Spanish
versions of the survey were reviewed by CCC personnel who have long-term experience
in Tortuguero. Their comments concerning the clarity and local dialect were incorporated
into the survey and the surveys were conducted orally in Spanish or English, depending
upon the preference of the interviewee. Most were conducted in Spanish.
In addition to the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics in the survey,
survey participants were asked to respond to a series of statements about ecotourism, sea
turtle conservation, and turtle guiding in Tortuguero. Responses ranged from "strongly
agree, "agree," "neutral," "disagree," to "strongly disagree." Each answer was then
coded numerically from one (strongly agree) to five (strongly disagree). Respondents
were also asked a series of demographic and socioeconomic questions at the beginning of
The survey responses were used to address the following research questions:
What are the local guides' attitudes regarding ecotourism, sea turtle
conservation, and guiding in Tortuguero?
Do the local guides have different attitudes regarding ecotourism, sea turtle
conservation, and guiding in Tortuguero?
All survey statements on which 90% or more of the guides responded in the same
way were separated and considered statements that the guides agree on. The remaining
statements were evaluated using the inductive reasoning method, whereby the data were
explored for patterns or trends. The local guide attitude data were grouped into different
independent variable categories based on demographic and socio-economic information,
as well as by the number of permits granted in the 1999 season. For each survey
statement, the mean response value was calculated for each independent variable and
tested with a two-sample t-test assuming equal variance. The t-test was used as an initial
exploratory method to explore the data. Each survey statement with a significant t-test
result between independent variable responses was then tested using a Chi-square test.
The Chi-square test is a nonparametric test used to analyze ordinal data (Agresti and
Finlay 1986; Burt and Barber 1996), and both the t-test and Chi-square results are
Limitations of the Study
Several limitations of this study can be outlined. First, in rural Latin America,
gaining the "confianza" (trust) of the local people is essential in order to receive honest
and candid responses to any research method. Because all field research was carried out
in six weeks, I was not in Tortuguero long enough to gain the trust I might have gained
had I spent more time there. However, the fact that I was already fluent in Spanish and
had experience living in a small Caribbean village with a similar culture proved helpful
in gaining more trust initially.
Because only the local guides were surveyed, it is impossible to compare attitudes
of local guides with those of outside guides, or with those of nonguides. Although a
comparison would give a better overall picture of how turtle guiding is influencing
Tortuguero, the local turtle guides are an important indicator group for evaluating the
impacts of ecotourism on the village. Also, because only turtle guides were surveyed, the
attitudes toward ecotourism, guiding, and conservation of the other sector of local guides
(the "nature" guides who take tour groups on canoe tours through the canals or for a hike
through the rainforest) have not been taken into account. Many turtle guides also work as
nature guides, but the survey specifically targeted the turtle guiding experience. It is
important to be aware that these attitudes and opinions of the local turtle guides of
Tortuguero only reflect a small portion of the Tortuguero residents and should not be
used to make assumptions about the village in general.
Another limitation of this study is the timing of the field research. Due to funding
schedules and previous personal commitments, the field research was carried out at the
beginning of the 2000 green turtle nesting period, not at the peak of the season, which
typically occurs between July and September. The height of the tourist season, which is
directly related to the green turtle nesting period, was just beginning as I was finishing
my fieldwork. Because this study focuses on socioeconomic information and attitude
data, the timing of the research most likely does not affect the responses; however, it is
important to note that the responses were not given during the height of the tourist season
Finally, the permit data obtained from the TNP office does not accurately indicate
a guide's precise income from turtle guiding. Although the rate charged per tourist is
fixed, some guides offer an unofficial "discount" in order to obtain more tourists. Also,
because the guides must acquire the permits during the day, fewer tourists may actually
go on the turtle walk at night due to inclement weather, because they changed their
minds, or because of some other reason. Therefore, although the permit data do not
reflect an exact one-permit to one-tourist ratio, the permit data still serve as a valuable
indicator of income in terms of proportion. The following chapter describes the guiding
system as it presently works in Tortuguero.
THE TURTLE GUIDES AND THE TURTLE TOUR
This chapter describes the history and the complexities of turtle guiding in
Tortuguero. In order to gain a better perspective on the intricacies of guiding, this
chapter first outlines why there are turtle guides at all on the beaches of Tortuguero. The
chapter continues with a brief history of the guide association and the guide training
workshops, and then goes on to explain the details of turtle guiding in Tortuguero. Next,
some of the rules that govern the guides are outlined, as are some of the consequences for
breaking the rules. Different employment strategies are presented in order to gain a
better understanding of how different guides acquire tourists, and finally the guides'
contribution to community-wide projects is explored. The information presented in this
chapter was acquired from information gathered through participant observation and
informal conversational interviews, as well as from the relevant literature.
Why Guides are Necessary on the Beaches of Tortuguero
Nesting marine turtles are sensitive to distractions and obstacles while out of the
water. Behaviors common of tourists on the beach at night, such as flashlight use, flash
photography (Campbell 1994, Jacobson and Robles 1992), and touching or standing on
the turtles (Johnson et al. 1996a, Johnson et al. 1996b, Herzog and Gerrand 1992), tend to
disturb the females that come to nest onshore. These turtles often return to the sea before
laying their eggs due to these types of human disturbances (Jacobson and Lopez 1994).
Such problems were reported in Tortuguero in the early 1990s, especially on weekend
nights when tourists more commonly visited the area (Jacobson and Robles 1992,
Jacobson and Lopez 1994). Park managers and Caribbean Conservation Corporation
(CCC) scientists reported that these disturbances mostly affected the first seven
kilometers of the 35-kilometer nesting beach-the area of beach closest to the village
where most tourists and villagers reside (Jacobson and Robles 1992). In a 1990 survey,
tourists in large groups of 20-40 people complained that they couldn't observe the turtles
in such a large crowd, and that the groups themselves had negative effects on the turtles.
Some of these same tourists even suggested that tourists be prohibited from walking on
the beach during nesting season, thereby enabling these endangered animals to nest in
peace (Jacobson and Robles 1992). Scientists and tourists alike agreed that some form of
regulation needed to be adopted in order to sustain Tortuguero's green turtle nesting
"Turtle Guiding" in Tortuguero: The Beginnings of the Guide Association
As one of Tortuguero's current female turtle guides explains it, she, her brother,
and eight of their friends began taking tourists on the beach to observe nesting turtles in
the late 1980s. They did this mainly because tourists staying at their family's hotel often
inquired about the turtles, where to observe them and what to do if they see a turtle.
According to her, they collected a few dollars from each tourist they took to the beach
and split the earnings among themselves. Because they were benefitting economically
from the turtles (a resource they viewed as belonging to the entire community), this
group of 10 decided to donate a portion of what they earned to a community fund.
Although the group's original motivation was not to regulate tourist behavior, these
original 10 guides set some precedents for the turtle guiding association that exists today.
The Guide Training Workshops: Past and Present
In July 1990, the CCC and the Tortuguero National Park (TNP) staff developed a
pilot tour guide-training program in response to the problem of unregulated tourist
behavior and its impact on the nesting turtles (Jacobson and Robles 1992). The CCC
hired a Costa Rican biologist as the training coordinator whose responsibilities included
developing the first nesting beach tour guide course and organizing the local guides into
a formal cooperative upon completion of the course (CCC 1994). Eight male residents of
Tortuguero between the ages of 17 and 40 completed the 10-hour training course (the
woman who recounted the origin of the tour guides was not among them because she was
attending school at the time of the training course), which focused on sea turtle natural
history, TNP regulations, and communication techniques (Jacobson and Robles 1992,
Jacobson and Lopez 1994). Some of the rules set by the guide pilot program include a
1 0-tourist limit per guide, and the prohibition of flashlight use except by the trained
guides. These rules were established to minimize disturbance for the turtles and are still
Upon completion of the course, the TNP staff helped enforce the use of guides by
tourists walking the nesting beach at night (Jacobson and Robles 1992). These newly-
trained guides charged an average fee of two US dollars per tourist and, as before, all
earnings were pooled and split evenly among the guides at the end of each week.
Immediately following the establishment of the guide program, park managers
and biologists working at TNP agreed that the program helped mitigate the negative
impacts of tourist behavior that previously disturbed the nesting turtles (Jacobson and
Robles 1992). In March of 1991, in response to the success of the guides and the guide
training program, the Costa Rican Minister of Natural Resources (now MINAE) decreed
that tourists must be accompanied by an authorized guide in order to view nesting sea
turtles on the beaches of Tortuguero (Decree No. 25451, Article 12-MINAE). This
legal decree is fundamental to the validity and success of the guide program today.
Since the first guide training course in 1990, several more have taken place
throughout the years. The CCC organized the courses until 1993. By 1993, the number
of participants reached 83 and in 1994 the CCC shifted the main responsibilities of
organizing the course to the Costa Rican Park Service. The CCC still plays a crucial role
in logistical and technical support for the workshops, which have become more
formalized since the transfer of responsibility in 1994 (CCC 1994).
At the time of this research (May to July 2000), the most recent guide-training
workshop had taken place in May 1999. The Tortuguero Conservation Area (ACTo) and
the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) cosponsored the one-week workshop, which was
held at the CCC station. The training covered a variety of areas: the structure and
function of ACTo, protected area categories, environmental education, bird
identification, basic sea turtle biology, local history, ecotourism, plant identification,
guide etiquette, and basic first aid. The workshop included approximately 50 percent
class work and 50 percent hands-on training (Siles et al. 1999). A total of 136 guides
participated in the 1999 workshop (SINAC/ACTo 1999), and each participant paid 5000
colones ($17.73) to help cover the cost of materials, food, and the guide handbook each
participant received. Of the 136 guides who attended, 43 were local guides (those who
live in Tortuguero year-round) and 94 were guides who came with organized tours from
either Lim6n or San Josd, or who only lived in Tortuguero during the turtle-nesting
Upon completion of the 1999 guide-training workshop, guides received an
identification card (called a "camet") certifying their participation. Only those
individuals with a carnet can receive permits to take tourists on the beach at night to
observe nesting turtles. Because of the thoroughness and breadth of themes covered in
the 1999 workshop, no workshop was held in 2000. Instead, all guides certified in 1999
were required to pay 1000 colones ($3.27) in order to renew their carnet for the 2000
The Turtle Guide and the Turtle Tour-How It All Works
Because of the legal mandate that all tourists wishing to observe the turtles on the
beaches of Tortuguero must be accompanied by a certified guide, and because a large
portion of the nesting beach falls within the boundaries of TNP, the responsibility of
regulating the guides falls under the jurisdiction of the park staff. Each guide can take a
maximum of 10 tourists in a group (plus a limit of three children under the age of 12),
and the maximum number of tourists on a given section of the beach cannot exceed 100
at a time. In order to regulate tourist numbers, each guide must obtain a permit from the
park staff for each group of tourists taken to observe nesting turtles.
At a set time during the day, park staff work at the CCC's informational kiosk in
the center of town, where the guides line up to obtain their permit(s) for the night. The
guide can request which section of the beach s/he wants to take a group (either the
section of the beach within the park boundaries or the section in front of the village), and
at which shift (either 8 pm- 10 pm or 10 pm-midnight). The park staff keeps a log of
which guide is going to which side of the beach, during which shift, and with how many
tourists, thus avoiding any violation of the limits set by the legal decree. The permits are
given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
All tourists entering TNP pay an entrance fee (six dollars for foreigners and 300
colones for Costa Rican nationals and legal residents). Therefore, the tourists going to the
'park' side of the nesting beach pay not only the rate charged by the guides ($5 per
tourist in 1999, $10 per tourist in 2000), but the park entrance fee as well. Also, because
it is easier to stay awake between 8 and 10 pm, most guides prefer taking their tours on
the 8 to 10 shift on the 'town' side of the beach, thus making this shift the most sought-
after and the one to fill up the fastest--especially during the peak nesting season. This
problem has caused some tension among the guides, since some of the guides have other
jobs and can't get to the kiosk early enough to obtain permits for the more desirable
The Rules and the Consequences of Breaking Them
The rules all guides and their tourists are expected to follow are clearly outlined
in the guide manual (ICT and ACTo 1999). The guide is responsible for explaining these
expectations to the tourists at the beginning of each shift, as the guide is held accountable
for the actions of the tourists in his/her group. The rules are designed to minimize
disturbances for the turtles and to promote conservation-friendly habits in the guides'
everyday lives. Some of the rules include: carrying the carnet and permit during the shift,
no flash photography or flashlights (the guides may use a flashlight only if it has a red
filter), no smoking on the beach, following all rules set by the park service, and not
committing any act that results in damaging the natural resources of the park (ICT and
Consequences for violating the rules are also explicitly outlined in the guide
manual. The minimum consequence for violating any of the rules is suspension of the
carnet for 15 days. The most serious consequence is a two-year suspension for
committing an act harmful to the natural resources of the park (ICT and ACTo 1999). In
1999, several suspensions were recorded in the park log. Among the suspensions
recorded were 15-day suspensions for a tourist in the group smoking on the beach, too
many tourists in the group, missing documentation, a drunk tourist or guide, and a guide
using an illegal net to fish in the river. One guide received a two-year suspension for
squatting on government property. The enforcement of the rules, along with the serious
consequences of rule violations, aid in upholding the integrity of the guide program and
help maintain an environment conducive for turtles to nest.
Turtle Guide Employment Strategies
Turtle guides either work for one of the ecolodges around town, for a tour
company from the city, or work independently. Many of the local guides work in another
capacity (e.g. nature guide, boat driver or maintenance) for one of the lodges nearby and
take tour groups to observe nesting turtles at night according to a set schedule. Most of
the lodges have a list of all certified guides working with them, and each night tourists (in
groups of 10 or fewer) at the lodge are assigned to the next guide on the list. This list
(called a "rol") ensures equal opportunities for all guides working at the lodge. Although
the lodge charges each tourist full price for the turtle tour, the guide generally does not
receive the entire fee. Most guides working for the lodges have said that, although they
get paid a little less per tourist, they prefer working with the "rol" system because it
provides more consistent work and a fair process. Some local guides who work for
lodges will also seek work as a turtle guide independently of the lodge if it is not their
turn on the lodge's list.
Some guides come to Tortuguero with package tours from a major city or contract
themselves out to city-based tour companies. These guides avoid the hassle of gathering
tourists upon their arrival in Tortuguero, but are still required to obtain permits for their
tourists and are subject to the same rules and regulations governing turtle guiding in
Guides who work independently are mostly local guides. As tourists arrive in
Tortuguero by boat, several independent guides wait by the dock and approach the
tourists as they disembark. The independent guides attempt to secure as many tourists as
possible for that night's turtle walk. The more aggressive guides will even acquire more
than the maximum 10 tourists, and will later look for another guide who doesn't have the
maximum number of tourists to take the extra tourists in his/her group. The guide who
initially gathers the tourists asks for a commission from the guide who actually conducts
the turtle tour that evening. Boat drivers also receive commissions from the turtle guides
who take tourists from their boat on the turtle walks.
The unorganized and competitive manner in which independent guides acquire
tourists for the turtle walks results in some negative impressions of the guides as a group
and of Tortuguero as a whole. The park staff and the guide association have discussed
ways to improve the process, but because it proves to be extremely lucrative for certain
guides as it currently works, no changes have been made to make the system fair for all
guides involved. Those guides who are connected to a local cabina through family or
otherwise can generally avoid the competition to acquire tourists by acting as a guide for
the tourists staying at that particular cabina.
The Guide Association and Its Contribution to Community Projects
The guide association is a loose, relatively unstructured organization whose
membership, although unclear, seems to be voluntary and open to both local and outside
guides. However, the outside guides don't appear to have an active role in the
organization due to the logistical difficulties of not living in the village.
Most turtle guides (both local and outside guides) donate 150 colones
(approximately $0.50) per permit to the Community Development Association as a
matter of courtesy and tradition, but a small number of guides refuse to make a
contribution. The guide association has a president (although the former president of the
guide association wasn't a guide himself) and the main function of the association
appears to be deciding what community project should benefit from the guides' permit
In recent years, the guide association has contributed to several community
projects, all of which are visible, tangible, and beneficial to the community. The
community projects, which are also partly funded by solicited donations from some of
the ecolodges in the area, as well as from the CCC, include the following:
installation of pipes for the water system
construction of a house for the school teachers to live in and to house the
Community Development Association office
construction of the police station located in the village
purchase and installation of playground equipment and a basketball court for
the village park
purchase and installation of the fence around the newly constructed garbage
The intricacies of the turtle guiding in Tortuguero are important to understand
before delving into the analysis of how both the community as a whole and the individual
guides are benefitting from the income generated by the turtle tours. Chapter 5 presents
results from the guide survey and permit data analyses, and presents implications of the
WHO ARE THE GUIDES OF TORTUGUERO?
Forty-three (31.6%) of the 136 guides certified to work in Tortuguero in 1999 and
2000 were local guides. Of the 43 local guides, 95.3% (n=41) were surveyed (see Figure
5-1). The remaining 93 certified guides come from locations outside of Tortuguero.
Figure 5-1. Proportion of Local and Outside Guides for the 1999 and
2000 Nesting Seasons
Of the 41 local guides surveyed, 19.5 % (n=8) were female and 80.5% (n=33)
were male. The average age of the local guides was 35.4 years, with the oldest guide at
63 years and the youngest 21. Half of the local guides surveyed were over 35 years old,
and the modal or most frequent age was 34. Half of the local guides have lived in
Tortuguero over 15 years, and the average length of time the local guides have lived in
Tortuguero is 18.2 years. The oldest guide has lived in Tortuguero all of his life (63
years), and one guide has lived in Tortuguero for only three years (see Table 5-1).
Most guides have had six or more years of school (mean=7.8 years) and the range
of education level spans from one guide with no formal education to another guide who
completed a Masters degree at a foreign university (17 years) (see Table 5-1). Of note,
the mode of eight years of residence in Tortuguero coincides with the major tourism
"boom" in Costa Rica and in Tortuguero between 1986 and 1994 (Campbell 2002),
which suggests that the guides arriving in Tortuguero around this time are tourism-
Table 5-1. Local Guide Socioeconomic and Demographic Information
Mean Maximum Minimum Median Mode
Age 35.4 63.0 21.0 35.0 34.0
Years in Tortuguero 18.2 43.0 3.0 15.0 8.0
Years in school 7.8 17.0 0.0 6.0 6.0
Years as a turtle guide 9.0 28.0 1.0 8.0 20.0
# People in household 3.6 11.0 1.0 3.0 3.0
Although turtle guiding was not formally organized until 1990, many guides were
taking tourists to observe nesting turtles before guiding regulations were established.
One guide has been turtle guiding for 28 years, while another only started the year of the
most recent guiding workshop (minimum = 1 year). The average number of years the
guides have been taking tourists on turtle walks is nine years, and half of the guides
consider themselves as having been a turtle guide for eight years or more (see Table 5-1).
The local guides' household consists of an average of 3.6 people, with a
maximum of 11 people in a household and a minimum of one. Half of the guides have
three or more people living in their household (see Table 5-1).
Fifteen of the local guides surveyed (36.5%) work as a guide for one of the lodges
around Tortuguero, and 63.4% (n=26) work independently. Six respondents (14.6% of
the total) reported that they work both independently and for a lodge, and are thus
recorded in both groups. Most local guides (n=32, 78%) have other jobs in addition to
working as a turtle guide. Over one-third (n=15 or 36.6%) of the guides speak English in
addition to Spanish.
Indicators of Wealth
Accurate income data are unavailable; therefore other indicators (such as
ownership of telephones, boats, and motors) are used as surrogate measures of wealth.
Most guides (78%) don't have telephones in their household. The maximum number of
telephones in a guide's household is three, with a mean of 0.3 telephones per household.
Over half (65.9%) of the guides report having at least one boat per household, with a
maximum of five boats in one household and zero boats in other households (n= 14).
Boats with motors are not as common as less-expensive boats without motors, and most
guide households have no motor at all. One guide reports owning three motors
(maximum), and the average number of motors in the guides' household is 0.5 (see
Table 5-2. Wealth Indicators for Local Guides
Mean Maximum Minimum Median Mode
# permits in 1999 351.4 1059.0 0.0 389.0 0.0
# telephones per household 0.3 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
# boats per household 1.0 5.0 0.0 1.0 1.0
# motors per household 0.5 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
It is interesting to note that the only local guide with no formal education owns
the maximum number of telephones (n=3), the maximum number of boats (n=5), and the
maximum number of motors (n=3). This particular guide uses the telephones and the
boats with motors for a nature tour and transportation business he started several years
ago. Overall, the local guides span a wide range of social and economic status.
The permit data provide an additional economic indicator that represents (at least
partially) the local guides' income. The number of daily permits is the only source of
regular income for some guides, and the principal source for many. Although local
guides only comprise approximately one-third (31%, n=43) of all guides certified to lead
turtle tours in Tortuguero, the 43 local guides obtained significantly more permits
(n=15,1 10; p=0.000) than the 93 outside guides (n=5935). In fact, the local guides led
approximately 72% of all tourists participating in turtle walks in the 1999 nesting season
(see Figure 5-2).
70.0% -6 % - - -- - -- -
50.0% -- Outside Guides
40.0% ocal Guides
# of Guides # of Permits
Figure 5-2. Comparison of Outside Versus Local Guides and Percent of
Permits for the 1999 Nesting Season.
The local guides obtained an average of 351 permits, while the outside guides
averaged 135 permits per guide. The mean number of permits per local guide (local
guide mean = 351) is higher than the mean number of permits overall (total mean = 242),
while the mean number of permits per outside guide (outside guide mean = 135) is lower.
Half of the local guides obtained more than 389 permits, while the median number of
permits for the outside guides is 132. The overall median for permits per guide for both
local and outside guides is 176. The maximum number of permits per guide for the local
guides is 1059, while the outside guide with the most permits obtained 398 (see Figure
Because the local guides obtain the vast majority of the permits for turtle walks, it
is clear that the income generated directly from the turtle walks benefits the local guides
more than the outside guides, and thus meets one of the goals (providing income to local
community members, and in this case the turtle guides specifically) of community-based
1000 -- - - - - - - -
El Local Guides
600 ------------------------- -M Outside Guides
Mean # Permits Median Maximum #
Per Guide Permits
Figure 5-3. Permits Per Guide for the 1999 Nesting Season
The analysis of the distribution of permits among the local guides suggests that
the distribution is not highly unequal, as the curve representing the cumulative
percentage of permits per local guide falls close to the Lorenz curve of equal distribution
(see Figure 5-4).
100% _-_ __-
60% ...............- -.-.-.- -_-
040% of permits
0 % . . . . . . . . . . . .. .
) N M ON N % N ;'; M M M. M
Individual Local Guide
Figure 5-4. Cumulative Permits Per Local Guide as Compared to the
Lorenz Curve of Equal Distribution.
Three guides obtained over 790 permits and can be considered exceptions. These
three guides are most likely the ones referred to when survey respondents commented
that there are a few guides that earn more than the rest. Of the three guides acquiring the
most permits, two were surveyed. Both share several common characteristics: both are
male, both speak fluent English, both have lived in Tortuguero for 16 years, both work as
nature guides in addition to turtle guiding, and both work as independents. The three
guides in this category are also the most visible guides, and are generally the most
aggressive in securing tourists for turtle tours. The three guides in group four usually
wait by the dock where the boats bring the tourists, and (during the season peak) often
gather more than the limit of 10 tourists and then find other guides to take the extra
tourists on the turtle tour (charging a commission from the guide who takes the extra
tourists on the turtle walk).
Although the three guides who obtained the most permits in the 1999 season have
a monopoly of sorts in the business of securing tourists for turtle tours, the overall
number of permits is distributed fairly evenly among the local guide population. This
distribution of income may be one of the main factors in the guides' overall positive
attitudes toward ecotourism and guiding (see sections later in this chapter) in Tortuguero,
as increased income is expected to result in more positive attitudes (see Chapter 1).
Local Guides' Attitudes Toward Ecotourism
Local guides' attitudes serve as important indicators of whether the benefits of
ecotourism and sea turtle conservation are filtering into the local community. Because
local turtle guides are closely connected to the economic benefits of ecotourism, their
attitudes and opinions are valuable in gauging whether ecotourism is well-received in
Tortuguero. It is important to note, however, that the guides comprise a small proportion
of the total population of Tortuguero, and generalizations need to be cautious. Positive
attitudes generally indicate increased income and higher levels of participation in
conservation efforts (see Chapter 1), and it is expected that most guides will have a
positive attitude toward ecotourism and conservation if guiding brings increased income
(Jacobson and Robles 1992).
All of the local guides surveyed in Tortuguero share the opinion that owners of
large tourism businesses benefit most from tourism. Although 95.1% (n=39) of
Tortuguero's local guides believe that the economic benefits of ecotourism in Tortuguero
are not evenly distributed among all those who work in the tourism sector, most
acknowledge that the influx of foreign tourists is improving the quality of life in
Tortuguero (95.1%, n=39). Most also believe that tourism has greatly increased his/her
income (92.7%, n-38) (see Table 5-3).
Table 5-3. Statements Regarding Ecotourism that the Local Guides Agree On
Q# n % Interpretation
6 39 95.1 Income from tourism is not distributed equally among all who
work in tourism in Tortuguero
7 38 92.7 Tourism has significantly increased his/her income
11 41 100 Owners of big tourism businesses receive the majority of economic
benefits of tourism
13 39 95.1 The quality of life in Tortuguero is improving because of foreign
Although the local guides agree that, overall, ecotourism in the village is
improving the quality of life, some significant differences of opinion are notable. Male
guides more than female guides, and guides working for a lodge more than those working
independently, believe that Costa Rican tourists are not as desirable as foreign tourists for
Tortuguero. Two groups believe that much of the income generated from ecotourism
stays in the community: guides with six or fewer years of school and guides with more
than the average number of permits. Guides with more than six years of formal
education and those with less than the average number of permits are less likely to agree
(see Table 5-4).
Implications of local guides' attitudes toward ecotourism
It is not surprising that all local guides believe that large tourism businesses
receive most benefits from tourism, as most large businesses are based in San Jos6 and
have obvious advantages (including transportation, equipment, bilingual and highly
educated guides and access to international markets) compared to smaller, locally owned
businesses. However, because the local guides overall can earn a significant income
from turtle guiding, it is important to note that the guides do recognize the importance of
ecotourism in increasing their own personal income as well as improving the quality of
life in Tortuguero overall.
Table 5-4. Significant Differences Among Groups of Local Guides on Attitudes
Chi Square T-Test
Q4 Groups P Value P Value Interpretation
19 Females Males X 0.04 Male guides and guides who work
n=8 n=33 for a hotel believe that Costa
Rican tourists are less preferable
Independent Not 0.10 0.05 for Tortuguero than are foreign
n=26 Independent tourists
17 _6 years >6 years 0.05 0.01 Guides who attended school for 6
school school years or less, and guides with
n=24 n=l 7 more than the average # permits
believe that much of the tourists'
Guides with Guides with 0.05 0.08 money stays in the community
<351 permits >351 permits
Note: Questions for which no significant difference emerged on either the T-Test or the
Chi-Square Test are not shown. P values greater than 0.10 (i.e. insignificant) are
indicated by an "X."
The guides with lower levels of formal education and those with above average
numbers of permits believe that much of the tourists' spending benefits the community.
The community of Tortuguero does benefit directly from the turtle walks because 38 of
the 41 local guides surveyed (and most of the outside guides as well) donate the 150
colones (approximately $0.50) per permit to the community development association,
and these funds have been used to contribute to the annual community development
project (see Chapter 4). The results of these projects are visible throughout Tortuguero,
and the guides speak openly and proudly of their contribution to these projects when the
opportunity arises. Perhaps those guides who obtain more permits recognize the fact that
income from tourism stays within the community because they have personally
contributed significantly to it. On the other hand, the guides with more than a primary
school education may recognize the potential benefits of tourism income for the
community and understand that the full potential benefits to the local community are not
yet fully realized in Tortuguero.
Male guides (perhaps as an artifact of sample size) and guides working for a hotel
deem Costa Rican tourists less preferable than foreign tourists because, in their view,
Costa Rican tourists pose more risk for the guide than do foreign tourists. Many guides
commented that Costa Rican tourists overall are not respectful of the strict rules the
guides and their tour must follow (refer to Chapter 4), and because the guides are held
accountable for the actions of the individuals in their tour group, they consider Costa
Rican tourists a bigger risk than foreign tourists (who, according to the guides, are
generally more respectful of the regulations governing the turtle walks in Tortuguero).
Some of the guides also commented that Costa Rican tourists spend less money in
Tortuguero because oftentimes they bring coolers filled with food and beverages with
them and are reluctant to leave tips.
The implications here are twofold. Firstly, Costa Ricans are less likely to spend as
much money in Tortuguero because Costa Ricans travel to Tortuguero as a weekend trip
and are able to save money by bringing with them what foreign tourists can't. On the
other hand, the lack of respect Costa Ricans reportedly demonstrate towards the guide
program in Tortuguero reflects the overall lack of information about Tortuguero available
to Costa Rican nationals. Most foreign tourists arrive in Tortuguero already aware (by
way of reading about Tortuguero in a guidebook, by word of mouth, or because a tour
package includes it) that they must hire a guide in order to observe nesting turtles, while
Costa Ricans apparently do not have easy access to similar information.
It is interesting to note that neither age nor amount of time living in Tortuguero
elicited any significant differences of opinion regarding ecotourism in Tortuguero. Many
guides (as well as nonguides) expressed concern over the increasing social problems (i.e.,
alcohol and drug abuse, prostitution) in recent years. Many believe the influx of income
from tourism and influences from other cultures are causes of what they perceive as
social decline, but no significant results indicate age or time in Tortuguero as a division
Local Guides' Attitudes Toward Sea Turtle Conservation
All guides but one (n=40, 97.6%) believe that guides are necessary for sea turtle
conservation in Tortuguero. However, older guides more than younger guides, and those
living in Tortuguero longer than 15 years more than those living in Tortuguero for less
time, believe that local residents should have the right to consume the turtles that nest on
Tortuguero's beaches (Table 5-5).
Significantly more guides living in households with no other person employed in
tourism, compared to guides with at least one other household member working in
tourism believe that life is more complicated in a place where conservation plays a major
role in the community overall (see Table 5-5).
Table 5-5. Significant Differences Among Groups of Guides on Attitudes Toward Sea
Q# Groups Chi Square T-Test Interpretation
P Value P Value
1 <35 years old > 35 years old X 0.09 Guides over 35 and those
n=22 n=19 who have lived in
Tortuguero over 15 yrs are
more likely to believe that
15 years in >15 years in 0.05 0.05 the people of Tortuguero
Tortuguero Tortuguero should have some right to
n=21 n=20 consume turtles
3 Guides without other
Other household No other 0.01 0.01 household members working
member in household in the tourism sector believe
tourism member in that living in a place where
n=18 tourism conservation is of major
n=23 importance makes life more
I __ complicated
5 Mentioned guides Didn't mention 0.05 0.04 Independent guides and
as guides as those who cited guides as an
conservationists conservationists important component to sea
n=l I n=30 turtle conservation in
Tortuguero believe that their
15 Independent Not independent X 0.08 opinions matter to
n=26 n=15 organizations and
institutions involved in
Note: Questions for which no significant difference emerged on either the T-Test or the
Chi-Square Test are not shown. P values greater than 0.10 (i.e. insignificant) are
indicated by an "X."
When asked an open-ended question regarding which organizations are in charge
of sea turtle conservation in Tortuguero, 28.8% (n=l 1) mentioned the guides themselves.
Those who recognized guides as conservationists in Tortuguero, as well as the
independent guides, are significantly more likely to believe that other organizations and
institutions take the guides' opinions into account when developing new policies and
regulations, in contrast to those who didn't mention guides as conservationists and guides
working for a lodge.
Implications of local guides' attitudes toward sea turtle conservation
Because the presence of guides and tourists on the beach discourages poachers
from illegally taking turtles and their eggs (see Chapter 4), it is not surprising that 40 of
the 41 surveyed guides believe that guides are necessary for sea turtle conservation in
Tortuguero. The one guide who disagreed commented that "they are helpful, but not
necessary." Another guide, when read statement 4, commented that guides and tourists
are necessary for conservation, thus acknowledging the importance of the "clients" of
The issue of turtle consumption provides interesting insight into the changing
nature of Tortuguero. Because turtle consumption-both subsistence and commercial (see
Chapter 2)-played an integral role in Tortuguero's history, economy, and culture, it fits
that the older and longer-term resident guides hold the opinion that the people of
Tortuguero should be allowed to consume the turtles, as these are the people whose
culture and livelihood once centered around turtle consumption. The desire to consume
turtles also may reflect the fact that limited consumption was permitted in Tortuguero
until the green turtle fishery was completely banned in 1999. However, without
exception, every guide who agreed with the statement regarding turtle consumption in
Tortuguero interjected with the comment, "but only limited consumption." The
consistency of this unsolicited response demonstrates that the older and long-term
resident guides recognize the changes in Tortuguero's culture and appreciate the
importance of the turtles' nonconsumptive value for Tortuguero's economy. It is
important to note here that the shift in values and culture (from consumption to
conservation) has occurred in Tortuguero as a result of the influx of tourists.
Local guides who live in households without any other member working in
tourism view sea turtle conservation as a factor that complicates life most likely due to
the constant intrusion of outsiders in the village and the imposition of policies and laws
favoring conservation efforts. If no other household member works in tourism, it is
likely that nobody else in the household directly benefits economically from sea turtle
conservation. Therefore the added complications in their everyday lives in Tortuguero
probably seem more obvious to them. This link between the economic benefit and
attitude toward conservation is the key to the sustainability of any conservation effort.
The practice of community-based conservation (or CBC) and the premise of
ecotourism suggest that the local people who are most affected by policies should have
opportunities to participate in the policy creation. Perhaps the independent guides feel
that the organizations and institutions involved in conservation-oriented policy-making
take their opinions into account because the independent guides are not accountable to
anyone else as far as turtle guide employment is concerned. Independent guides during
the turtle nesting season generally spend their days in the village and around TNP where
they are more likely to engage in conversations with representatives of organizations and
institutions. In contrast, those guides who work for lodges may have less opportunity to
interact with anyone other than lodge employees and guests. However, the fact that even
some turtle guides believe their opinions are important in the development on
conservation programs in Tortuguero suggests that significant progress has been made in
involving members of the local community at least through the eyes of the turtle
guides. This step is fundamental to the overall success of any conservation effort where
natural resource use conflicts are present.
Another small measure of success in the community-based aspect of conservation
efforts in Tortuguero is illustrated by the fact that about one quarter of the local guides
consider the guide association an integral part of sea turtle conservation in Tortuguero.
Ideally, all of the local guides should share this belief, but success in any rural
developing area needs to be assessed one small piece at a time.
Local Guides' Attitudes Toward Guiding
A large majority of the local guides (n=37, 90.2%) agrees that some guides earn
much more than others. Guides over 35 years old are more likely to believe that the
guides themselves are damaging to sea turtle conservation efforts than the younger
guides (see Table 5-6).
Guides older than 35 more than guides younger than 35 believe that the work as a
guide is too difficult for the compensation they receive. Independent guides more than
guides working for a lodge, and guides with six or fewer years of education more than
guides with over six years of education also believe that the turtle guiding is too difficult
for the money earned from turtle guiding (Table 5-6).
Female guides are significantly more likely than male guides to believe their
work as a guide helps support their family. The same is true of guides with at least one
other household member employed in tourism. Also, guides with six or more years of
school more than guides with less than six years of school, and guides with over 351
permits (mean=3 51) for the 1999 season, compared to the guides with less than 351
permits, are more likely to believe their work as a guide helps support their family (see
Table 5-6. Significant Differences Among Groups of Guides on Attitudes Toward
Q# Groups Chi Square T-Test Interpretation
P Value P Value
10 35 years old > 35 years old 0.05 0.02 Guides over 35 are more likely
n=22 n=19 to believe that the guides
themselves are damaging to sea
turtle conservation efforts
12 35 years old > 35 years old 0.10 0.10
n=22 n=19 Guides over 35, independent
Independent Not 0.10 0.10 guides, and guides with 6 or
less years of school believe that
n=26 independent the work as a guide is too hard
n= 15 for the pay received
6 years school >6 years school 0.05 0.04
18 Females Males 0.10 0.02
Female guides, guides with
Other household No other other household members
tourismmember in working in the tourism sector,
tourism member in guides with more than 6 years
nn8 tourism of school, and guides with more
n=23 than the average # permits
6 years school >6 years school 0.01 0.01 believe that their work as a
n=24 n=17 guide helps support their family
Guides with Guides with
<351 permits >351 permits 0.05 0.02
29 35 years old > 35 years old 0.10 0.10 Guides 35 and younger, and
n=22 n=19 guides who have lived in
Tortuguero 15 years or less
15 years in > 15 years in X 0.08 think that attending the annual
Tortuguero Tortuguero guide workshop is worthwhile
Note: Questions for which no significant difference emerged on either the T-Test or the
Chi-Square Test are not shown. P values greater than 0.10 (i.e. insignificant) are
indicated by an "X."
Additionally, guides 35 years and younger, and guides living in Tortuguero 15
years or less are significantly more likely to believe that attending the annual guide
training workshop is worthwhile than guides over 35 years and guides living in
Tortuguero more than 15 years (see Table 5-6).
Implications of local guides' attitudes towards guiding
Although more older guides than younger guides believe that the guides
themselves are damaging to sea turtle conservation, most of the guides who agreed with
this statement qualified their answer with, "only some." These older guides (although
surprisingly no significant differences of opinion emerged between long-term and short-
term resident guides) are most likely to possess more knowledge about turtle behavior
due to more practical experience, and perhaps they recognize that some of the guides are
careless or don't follow the rules governing the turtle tours. In many informal
conversations, as well as during the survey, several guides' names consistently were
mentioned when talking about guides who don't follow the rules. Unfortunately, the
TNP staff has limited personnel and not all infractions are noticed. Some guides
breaking the rules results in a blemished reputation and may eventually affect their ability
to take tourists on turtle tours.
Virtually every local guide who did not think that working as a guide was too
hard for the pay made comments such as "actually, it's fun," or "I do it (lead turtle tours)
because I like to." Many local guides expressed much enthusiasm and pleasure when
asked about leading turtle tours, and these positive attitudes toward the turtle guiding
indicate that, as long as the guides continue to enjoy the work and that they continue to
benefit economically from it, then they will continue leading turtle tours. Again, these
positive attitudes will ultimately determine the level of success of sea turtle conservation
as it presently exists in Tortuguero.
Some of the guides who indicated that the work is too much for the pay also
qualified their answers with observations such as, "only when we have to walk a long
way before we find a turtle is the work too hard," or "the work is too hard for $5, but not
for $10." Only a few local guides believe that overall the pay is not adequate
compensation for the work involved.
Differences of opinion regarding the guide training workshops are reflected in the
age and time residing in Tortuguero. The older guides and those living in Tortuguero
longer are less likely to believe that the workshops are worthwhile to attend. Many
mentioned that the workshops would be worth attending if they learned something new
every year, but most long-term residents and older guides have acquired vast amounts of
knowledge regarding turtles and Tortuguero from past experiences and workshops.
Many younger guides view the workshops as a valuable opportunity to learn more about
the turtles and other aspects of guiding they previously know little or nothing about.
Given the immigration to Tortuguero due to work opportunities resulting from the turtles
and ecotourism, most new guides recognize the value of becoming informed in order to
compete with the guides with more knowledge and experience.
The following chapter provides a summary of the findings of this work and
discusses the implications of these results for future research in Tortuguero specifically
and on guiding elsewhere. Chapter seven concludes with suggestions for the guiding
initiative in Tortuguero.
Ecotourism, proposed as an economically and biologically sustainable type of
community-based conservation, is currently the center of Tortuguero's economy. With
the increasing number of tourists arriving in Tortuguero, the culture and economy are
changing. This study explores how the turtle guides in Tortuguero perceive ecotourism,
sea turtle conservation, and guiding in their community.
Overall, the local turtle guides of Tortuguero view ecotourism positively and
recognize that their personal income has increased due to their work as turtle guides and
that their overall quality of life has improved with the increased arrival of foreign
tourists. Most turtle guides enjoy their work and are proud of their contribution to
community development projects via their donations from turtle walk permits. Many
guides believe that their voices are being heard and opinions taken into consideration by
governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations regarding conservation-
The general positive outlook the guides demonstrate towards ecotourism, guiding,
and sea turtle conservation reflects the satisfaction of increased income resulting from the
tourism economy. These results were expected as much of the literature discusses
economic benefits as an important factor in community support for conservation
initiatives, and ecotourism (in theory) aids in filtering the economic benefits to the
community level. Local guides are just one small part of the overall picture, but the
economic benefits the local guides receive from turtle guiding have aided in the transition
from consumptive use of sea turtles to a nonconsumptive income-generating strategy.
As a result of the guiding program, many of the signs of empowerment outlined
by Scheyvens (1999) are visible among the local turtle guides of Tortuguero. For
instance, the economic gain from guiding has been consistent since the formalization of
the guide program, the income is distributed fairly evenly among the guides, the guides
in general are proud of their work and enjoy talking about the turtles, and a portion of the
income generated from turtle tours each year is used for a community development
project. Although the guides seem to benefit from the income generated from
ecotourism, it is certainly not expected or suggested that all local residents hold
ecotourism-related jobs. Ecotourism is susceptible to outside factors (see Chapter 1) and
a diversified economy is best for overall stability.
What this study does not explore, however, are perceptions at the community
level and how ecotourism is affecting the Tortuguero as a whole. One needs to exercise
caution when generalizing about the success of conservation and ecotourism initiatives,
and perhaps view the signs of empowerment and disempowerment as a graded scale or
stages in a process. As in many parts of the world where development initiatives are
present, signs of disempowerment are evident in Tortuguero, and throughout the time this
research was conducted many nonguides in Tortuguero expressed deep concern over
what Scheyvens (1999) refers to as "social decay" (e.g., drug use, alcohol abuse,
prostitution). In fact, most of the signs of disempowerment Scheyvens (1999) discusses
in the social sphere are present in Tortuguero, at least anecdotally. Research on
community-level perceptions and income sources still needs to be conducted in order to
gain a better overall perspective on how ecotourism is affecting Tortuguero.
Practical Recommendations for the Turtle Guiding Initiative in Tortuguero
While conducting interviews and surveys in the field, many survey respondents
and key informants off-handedly mentioned ideas they feel would improve the turtle
guide program in Tortuguero. The suggestions listed below are some of the thoughts the
survey and interview respondents shared, and although some of the suggestions may be
idealistic, they are all feasible and sensible, and are therefore worth mentioning here:
Change the format of the guide training workshop from an annual one-time
event to a long-term commitment. For example, make attendance at a
weekly English class (or other type of class) mandatory in order to receive
the carnet. An ongoing long-term commitment would discourage outside
guides and benefit the local guides in areas in which they may be deficient.
Improve the image of the independent guides by creating official guide T-
shirts and require them to be worn when soliciting tourists and conducting
turtle walks. Also, prohibit the guides from smoking and drinking while
waiting at the dock for tourists to arrive. Many feel that the guides who
wait at the dock for tourists to disembark are portraying a negative image
and this problem is a concern to many of the other guides.
Strengthen the guide association and formalize the organization. If the
guides were more organized and worked as a cohesive group, they would
have more bargaining power with the TNP staff and would be able to
present themselves as a collective group.
Suggestions for Future Research
In order to gain a better understanding of the impacts of ecotourism on the
community of Tortuguero, more in-depth research on the perspectives of the Tortuguero
community need to be explored. The following research would prove beneficial in
assessing the true impacts ecotourism has on the community of Tortuguero:
Collect sociodemographic data and conduct research on the outside turtle
guides regarding their attitudes toward sea turtle conservation, ecotourism,
and guiding in Tortuguero and explore the comparative attitudes with the
Collect socioeconomic data and attitude data at the household level and
compare households with members employed in the tourism sector with
households without members directly employed in the tourism sector.
Ask direct questions regarding residents' opinions of social change.
Explore the nature and cause of the changes (if any) and investigate whether
the changes are worth the social costs.
Conduct research on the tourist aspect of ecotourism to gain a better
perspective of the business related side of tourism. Explore who is going to
Tortuguero, why, how much they spent there, how do they find out about
Tortuguero, and ask what their opinions are of the turtle tours. This
information can then be compared to past studies to gain a perspective on
how the nature of ecotourism is changing over time.
Explore the changes in attitudes toward ecotourism, guiding, and
conservation over time to evaluate the stages of a community experiencing
an evolving economy and conservation ethic.
Success or failure of an ecotourism initiative is not for an outsider to judge.
Local perceptions of quality of life and insights into cultural aspects of a community are
the ultimate social measure of success and as such, in-depth research on the social and
economic conditions in communities where ecotourism has impacted the local population
can provide insights into how ecotourism initiatives have played a role in the evolution of
a conservation ethic.
Socio-economic and Demographic Questions
1. How long have you been living in Tortuguero? Where did you live before?
1. CuAntos afios tiene Ud. de vivir en Tortuguero? D6nde vivia antes?
2. How old are you?
2. CuAntos afios tiene Ud.?
3. How many years of school did you complete?
3. Cuintos aflos de educaci6n cumpli6 Ud.?
4. Do you own a lancha or a cayuco? With a motor?
4. Tiene una lancha o un cayuco? Con motor?
5. Do you have a phone? How many?
5. Tiene tel6fono en la casa? Cuntos?
6. How long have you been working as a guide?
6. Cu~nto tiempo tiene Ud. de trabajar como guia?
7. Do you work for a hotel, or independently? Which hotel?
7. Trabaja Ud. con un hotel o como independiente? Cuil hotel?
8. Do you do anything else besides guiding to earn money? What?
8. Tiene otros fuentes de ingreso? Cuiles?
9. How many people live in your house?
9. Cuintas personas viven en su casa?
10. What did you do to earn money before you were a guide?
10. En que trabajaba antes de ser guia?
11. Does anyone else in your household earn money from tourism? What do they do?
11. Hay otras personas en su casa que trabajan en actividades de turismo? Qud hacen
12. Do you contribute the 150 colones per tourist to the Development Association?
12. Contribuye Ud. al fondo de la Asociaci6n de Desarrollo? P6rque/p6rque no?
13. Which organizations are in charge of sea turtle conservation in Tortuguero?
13. Cudles organismos estAn encargados de la conservaci6n de las tortugas marinas en
Likert-like Statements for Attitude Assessment
Key: (C) = Statements addressing conservation, (T) = Statements addressing ecotourism
in Tortuguero, (G) = Statements addressing their jobs as turtle guides in Tortuguero
(C) 1. Those of us that live in Tortuguero should have the right to consume the turtles
that nest here.
(C) 1. Nosotros que vivimos en Tortuguero debemos tener el derecho de consumir las
tortugas que anidan aqui.
(T) 2. Duplicates statement #19
(C) 3. Living in a place where conservation is so important makes life very complicated.
(C) 3. Vivir en un sitio donde la conservaci6n es tan importante complica la vida mucho.
(C) 4. The guides are necessary for the conservation of sea turtles in Tortuguero.
(C) 4. Los guias son necesarios para la conservaci6n de las tortugas marinas en
(C) 5. Those responsible for conservation don't take my opinions into consideration.
(C) 5. Los responsables para la conservaci6n no toman en cuenta mis opiniones.
(T) 6. Income from tourism is distributed more or less equally among everybody
working in tourism, whether they are owners of businesses or not.
(T) 6. La ganancia del turismo en Tortuguero se distribuye ins o menos igualmente
entre todo el mundo que trabaja en el turismo, sean duefios de empresas turisticas o no.
(T) 7. Tourism in Tortuguero has greatly increased my income.
(T) 7. El turismo en Tortuguero ha aumentado bastante mis ingresos.
(G) 8. Poorly worded statement-not analyzed
(C) 9. Poorly worded statement-not analyzed
(C) 10. Guides are harmful to sea turtle conservation in Tortuguero.
(C) 10. Los guias hacen dafio a los esfuerzos de la conservaci6n de tortugas marinas.
(T) 11. The owners of the tourism businesses receive most of the economic benefits of
(T) 11. Los duefios de las empresas turisticas reciben ]a mayoria de los beneficios
econ6micos del turismo.
(G) 12. The work as a guide is too hard for the pay.
(G) 12. El trabajo de guia es demasiado duro para el pago que se recibe.
(T) 13. The quality of life in Tortuguero is getting worse because a lot of foreign tourists
(T) 13. La cglidad de vida en Tortuguero estA empeorando porque llagan muchos turistas
(C) 14. Duplicates statement #1
(C) 15. My opinions count when new conservation programs are developed in
(C) 15. Mis opiniones cuentan cuando nuevos programas de conservaci6n se desarrollan
(G) 16. Poorly worded statement-not analyzed
(T) 17. Most of the money tourists spend in Tortuguero stays in the community.
(T) 17. Mucha de la plata gastada por los turistas se queda en la comunidad.
(G) 18. My job as a guide doesn't really help me support my family.
(G) 18. Mi trabajo como guia no me ayuda mucho en mantener a mi familia.
(T) 19. The arrival of Costa Rican tourists makes life in Tortuguero worse.
(T) 19. La llegada de turistas Ticos echa a perder la vida en Tortuguero.
(C) 20. Duplicates statement #9. Poorly worded-not analyzed
(G) 21. Duplicates statement #30
(G) 22. Duplicates statement #12
(C) 23. Duplicates statement #3
(G) 24. Duplicates statement #29
(T) 25. Duplicates statement #7
(G) 26. Duplicates statement #18
(T) 27. Duplicates statement #17
(T) 28. Duplicates statement #13
(G) 29. The guide training workshops are a waste of time.
(G) 29. Asistir a los cursos para guias no vale la pena.
(G) 30. Some guides that work in Tortuguero earn a lot more than others.
(G) 30. Unos de los guias que trabajan en Tortuguero ganan mucho mds que otros.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD PROTOCOL AND APPROVAL LETTER
Jocelyn Peskin, MA student
PO Box 117315
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7315 USA.
SUPERVISOR: Dr. Nigel Smith
Hello, my name is Jocalyn Peskin. I am a student at the University or Florida. I am condtcting a
study on the benefits of the guide program on the community of Tortuguto. Th study includes
residents in the village of Tortuguero. I would like to Interview you about your experience as a
guide and with the guide program. I have a survey that I would like you to answer regarding your
experience with the guide program. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to
You are free to withdraw your consent and to discontinue participation in the project or activity at
any time without consequence. There will be no risk or discomfort to your during the interview,
and the information you give me will be confidential to the extent allowable by the law. The
municipality or the park may use the information from my study in planning and policy making,
which may benefit residents in the future. The interview should take approximately 30 minutes.
No ompensation will be awarded for your participation.
I will be happy to answer questions about the study now. If you have questions or concern about
ymr rights as a research participant after I have left, you may contact me at the first address below
or my committee advisor
Jocelyn Peskin Nigel Smith
Geopaphy Department Gography Dcpawwmi
PO Box 117315 PO Box 117315
University of Florida University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7315 USA. lainusville, FL 32611-7315 USA
If you have any questions or concerns about your rights as a resarch participant, please Contact:
Institutional Review Board at the University of Floida
98A Psychology Building / Box 112250
University of Ilorida
Gainesville, FL 32611-2250
Please signify that de procedurem were verbally described to you. or that you have read them and
you voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure. If you would like a copy of this document,
one will be provided.
Signature of the participant Date Jocelyn Peskin, researcher Date
Signature of witness Date AIIOVEDBY
Imlsituthonl Review Board 9M Psychology Bldg.
P0 Box 112250
G3aiaesville, FL 32611-2250
Plione (352) 392-0433
Fan: (352) 392-9234
DATE: I .Apr-2000
TO: Ms. Jocelyn Pegkin
FROM: C. Michael Levy, Chair
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board
SUBJECT. Approval ofProteoli # 2000 -363
TITLF: Ecotourism benefit% to local communities: A case study ofs turtle consevation at
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
FUNDING' Tropical Conscr & Dcwl Field Rsch Grnt
I An pleased to advise you thaI the University of Florida JIoaitional Review Board has recommended
approval of this protocol. Based on its review, the UFIRB dotermined that this research presents no more
than minimal risk to padetlnt,% and based on 45 CFR 46.117(c), autorIzes you to administer the
informed ConsM process as speciflmd in the attached description.
tfyou wish to make any changes to this protol, including the mood to increase the number of participants
authorized, you mug disclose your plans before you implement them so that the Board can assess their
impact on your protocol In addition, you must report to the Board any unexpected complications that
affect your participants.
If you have not comileed this protocol by 19-Apr-2001. please telephone our office (392-0433), and we
will discuss the renewal proce with you,
It is important that you keep your Department Chair informed abut the status uf this -car 6 proui[ul.
cc: Vice President for Research
Dr. Nigel Smith
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Jocelyn Dale Peskin was born on May 7, 1972, on Long Island, New York, and
spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Westfield, New Jersey. After
graduating Westfield High School in 1990, she attended the University of Rochester for
one year before transferring to Rutgers University. In 1994, she received her B.A. in
philosophy with a minor in biology from Rutgers.
Immediately after graduating from college, Jocelyn spent one year in Costa Rica
working as a field assistant on a sea turtle research project and as an animal tracker for a
wildlife documentary. She then served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years on the
Miskito Coast of Honduras. After her Peace Corps assignment, Jocelyn remained in
Honduras for two additional years working as a sixth-grade teacher and a high school
science teacher for various bilingual schools.
In 1999, she returned to the United States in order to begin her graduate studies at
the University of Florida. She is currently employed at the Wildlife Conservation
Society's Mesoamercian and Caribbean Program based out of the regional office in
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science. A-- (
Edward J. Malecki, Chair
Professor of Geography
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science.
Nigel J. H. Smith
Professor of Geography
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science. n/
Karen A. Bjorndo -
Professor of Zoology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fily adqut, in scope d quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Science. _ _
Lisa M. Campbell
Assistant Professor of Geography
University of Western Ontario
This thesis was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Geography in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School and
was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of
Dean, Graduate School