The Three Tortugas of Galeta

Galeta is a Smithsonian field station in Panama on the Atlantic Coast where scientists study marine biology, students study the ocean and the habitats around the ocean and families can go to learn about the plants and animals that live in their own community.  The three main habitats that are studied in Galeta are Mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs.  Many different animals depend on these habitats to survive.  Many thanks to Dr. Heckadon and Gabriel for teaching us about Galeta.

In Galeta we met three lovely turtles named Denise, Anita and Molly. They each came to Galeta in very different ways and each of them is named after the people who brought them to Galeta. Molly is a Hawk Billed turtle that was found by a fisherman in the coast between the rocks. When the fisherman found Molly, she had fishing line wrapped around her neck and one of her fins. When she would move a fin, the fishing line would tighten around her neck. The fisherman cut the line so Molly could move and breath. He took her home, but wasn't sure how to take care of her. After two whole weeks of caring for the turtle at their house, the fisherman's son was reading the old notes he took on a field trip to Galeta. He realized knew exactly what to do with the turtle! The boy and his father took the turtle to Galeta where she is today.

Anita is a Green Sea turtle. She almost became someone's lunch! Many people eat turtles but there aren't very many left, so people are trying to save them. A young woman saw that a man in her village wanted to eat Anita, but after learning how important Green Sea turtles are to the ecosystem, she asked the man not to eat Anita for lunch. He told her that she would have to pay him $70.00! The young woman went to the people in her village to tell them what happened. They helped her collect the money. She gave the man the money and took Anita to Galeta. She is happy living in the tank and will probably be released back into the sea.

Denise is a very lucky Hawk Billed turtle. She was captured by an indigenous group called the Kunas, who were planning to eat her in spite of her small size. Hawk billed turtles are endangered, so if someone is caught with one of them, the person would be in trouble. A neighbor of the Kunas saw that Denise was a hawk billed turtle and called ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, national authority of the environment) immediately, so that ANAM could persuade the Kunas to let Denise live. ANAM went as fast as they could to save Denise and brought Denise to Galeta hoping that Galeta would receive her. Thanks to the neighbor who really cared about Denise, Denise is now living in Galeta together with Molly and Anita.

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