Marine turtles in Suriname

In 1995, a pilot study on marine turtles was carried out in the Galibi Nature Reserve in Eastern Suriname by a team of 4 dutch biologists. The project was executed in close collaboration with Stinasu, the Foundation for Nature Conservation Suriname. The numbers of nesting olive ridleys, leatherbacks and green turtles were assessed, doomed nests were relocated to a protected hatchery and the hatch rates of relocated and undisturbed nests were determined. In addition, bloodsamples were collected from nesting olive ridley and leatherback females and their offspring for a genetic study on the occurrence of multiple paternity. One year later, Biotopic Foundation was created and sponsors were found to continue the project. In 1997, the project in Suriname was continued as "The Sea Turtles of Suriname 1997" project, with financial support of the dutch AVGN WWF.

The project consisted of 3 parts:

  • Research: nest temperature and moisture were measured in relocated and undisturbed nests and the hatching success was determined in order to study the effect of nest relocation on hatching success. In addition, more bloodsamples were collected for the genetic study.
  • Awareness: a publicity campaign was initiated in orded to increase the awareness of the Surinam inhabitants on the importance of sea turtle conservation. Slide shows were held on schools, in cultural meeting points and in de Amerindian villages near the Galibi Nature Reserve. Articles on marine turtles were published in newspapers and radio and television emissions on marine turtles were organised. Finally, two booklets on marine turtles, one for children and one for adults were produced and printed in Suriname and distributed among schools and in the villages of Galibi.
  • Participation and International cooperation: collaboration with the local Amerindian NGO STIDUNAL (Foundation for Sustainable Nature Conservation Alusakia) was initiated. In addition, to stimulate the regional exchange of information an cooperation, contacts were made with french Guiana and Guyana. An international symposium on regional marine turtle protection in the Guyana Shield was organised and held in Theatre Unique in Paramaribo. Representatives from Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana en France attended the Symosium. In the following years, the symposium was organised by in French Guiana, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela.


In the years that followed, the project was embedded in World Wildlife Fund - Guianas Forests and Evironmental Conservation Project (WWF-GFEPC). The activities of Biotopic were extended to Matapica beach, situated on the Atlantic coast in the vicinity of the Suriname River estuary, and Samsambo and Kolukumbo, two newly formed nesting beaches located west of the Galibi Nature Reserve. Coastal flights were organised several times in order to monitor the Surinam coastline for new nesting activity.

Slide show presentation in Christiaan Kondre, Galibi.

PIT-tagging program: In 1999, the focus of the activities of Biotopic shifted to the leatherback population. A PIT-tagging program was initiated in order to obtain better information on the size, trends, and parameters of the leatherback population in Suriname and to assess the extent of nesting exchange with French Guiana. In addition, data on biometrics, nest survival, hatch success and sand temperatures were collected. The PIT/tagging program was continued for seven years. Three leatherback females that were PIT-tagged in Suriname during the project were subsequently encountered off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The results of the PIT-tagging program were published in 2007 in Chelonian Conservation and Biology: "Nesting and Nest Success of the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) in Suriname, 1999–2005. Chel. Cons. Biol. 6(1): 87–100." (download PDF).


Applying a PIT-tag on a leatherback.

This project was made possible thanks to the help of numerous dutch and foreign volunteers and students. Also, students from the University of Paramaribo participated in the research fieldwork and data processing. From 2003 to 2005, the PIT tagging program was hosted by the Netherlands Committee for IUCN.



More information:






This project was funded by the Beijerinck-Popping Foundation, the Treub society and WWF.