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Green Power Helps Save Sea Turtles In Panama

A state-of-the-art clean solar energy system is helping Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) protect endangered sea turtles at its new research station on Soropta Beach, Panama. Designed and installed by FTL Global Solutions (FTL), an innovator of lightweight, rugged energy systems for use in remote areas, this reliable green energy system now supplies power for lighting, security, water and cooking needs as STC biologists work throughout the night protecting endangered leatherback turtles and their hatchlings at one of the most important nesting beaches for this species in the Atlantic.

Leatherback hatchlings at Chiriqui, Panama.

Leatherback hatchlings at Chiriqui, Panama.

Soropta Beach, a remote black-sand beach on Panama’s Caribbean coast, is home to a large nesting colony ofleatherback sea turtles. Unfortunately, for years Soropta’sleatherbacks and their nests have been illegally harvested by poachers who kill the turtles for their meat and raid nests to steal the eggs. STC‘s conservation program is helping prevent poaching by protecting nests, monitoring nesting activity, and building support for turtle conservation with the local community.  The work takes place out of a rustic station, where the lack of electricity made the work extremely challenging – until now.

“The new solar energy system installed by FTL Global Solutions is making our conservation efforts more effective and safe,” said STC executive director David Godfrey.

Leatherback sea turtle in Soropta Beach, Panama.

Leatherback sea turtle in Soropta Beach, Panama.

STC‘s conservation efforts at Soropta began in 2013, when it acquired an old farm house and began upgrading it to accommodate a year-round turtle protection program. STC then hired and trained local community members to assist with the research and conservation work.  Without a year-round conservation presence at Soropta, poachers would move back in and threaten the survival of this important nesting colony.

“Acquiring solar energy at a remote place like Soropta Beachcould not have been done without the expert advice and assistance of FTL,” said Godfrey. “Their team guided us through the process; helped deliver the system to our remote station and even sent an expert to install the system and train our staff in its use and maintenance.”

New FTL Solar Panels

New FTL Solar Panels

“What makes the lighting so powerful is what it brings toSoropta,” said FTL spokesperson Paul Murphy. “The lighting extends the useful working day allowing the teams to achieve much more during each day, plus the social cohesion it brings toSoropta is incredible.”

The FTL solar energy system now provides critical power needs to the station’s various buildings where staff members live, work and eat. Running water is now supplied to a restroom and shower facility, and the station compound and dock now have security lighting in place.

“The first evening the lights were in and turned on was the first evening that the teams actually sat around the table after dinner and just talked,” said Murphy. “The camaraderie was a delight to watch, the joy on faces when the lights were turned on for dinner was moving. What FTL brings is more than just a lighting solution– it’s a life changing solution.”

STC Staff at the Soropta Station

STC Staff at the Soropta Station

Although improperly managed artificial lights can disorient nesting turtles and their hatchlings, STC has used the latest turtle-friendly lighting technology throughout the Soroptastation. All lights use red LED technology and are completely shielded from view on the beach. Using such technology, it is possible to provide light for human needs and safety on the beach without disturbing nesting sea turtles and other coastal wildlife.

In addition to FTL contributing their expertise and reducing the cost of the system installation, STC would also like to thank our Board of Directors as well as the IC Corporation and their foundation, IC Cares, for financial assistance with this project. IC Corporation has offices in Panama and provides support for STC’s sea turtle work at Soropta Beach.

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