Coffee with Giant South American River Turtles

WCS Shared Live
a Wonder of Nature
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Thank you for tuning in from Sept. 27–Sept. 30

Tens of Thousands of Turtles Have Been Emerging for an Annual Nesting Event
on the Border of Bolivia and Brazil

Over a four-day period, WCS brought you live and recorded video of one of the most magnificent annual turtle nesting events in the world. It takes place at the border of Bolivia and Brazil, in the river known as Guaporé River in Brazil and as Itenez in Bolivia.

Broadcast by Real Life Delivered, which was created to introduce the world to a new kind of conservation experience that puts everyone in touch with the allure of nature and to enable the enjoyment of our world’s precision in ways never before experienced.

UPDATE: Hatching

Video from December 2022

Hundreds of thousands of baby giant South American river turtles recently emerged from the nesting beaches.

This footage, taken by WCS’s conservation partner Ecovale, shows beaches swarming with baby turtles as they emerge from the sand then congregate along sand banks before eventually dispersing into the river. The turtles began hatching in mid-December and continued into early January.

UPDATE: Near Peak of Nesting/Rescue Effort

Photos from Oct. 12, 2022

Our conservationists are reporting the nesting is near its peak. Said Camila Ferrara of WCS Brasil: “Today, when I left the field, it was unbelievable how many turtles were nesting; they were nesting on 5 different beaches.”

The crew found one turtle with an arrow in its neck, which was removed (pictured). The turtle seemed OK.

Our team is on the ground working to protect the turtles as they nest and doing research to ensure these thousands and thousands of turtles can thrive in this habitat.

UPDATE: Turtles Have Begun Nesting

Photos from October 5, 2022

Photo Credit: ©WCS Brasil

The giant South American river turtles have begun nesting on the border of Brasil and Bolivia. This is one of the most magnificent annual turtle nesting events in the world. It takes place in the river known as the Guaporé River in Brazil and as the Itenez in Bolivia. Our conservationists are on the ground working with partners to help protect the turtles and the eggs and doing research to ensure the protection of these turtles for generations to come.

Las gigantescas tortugas de río sudamericanas han comenzado a anidar en la frontera de Brasil y Bolivia. Este es uno de los eventos anuales de anidación de tortugas más magníficos del mundo. Tiene lugar en el río conocido como río Guaporé en Brasil y como el Itenez en Bolivia. Nuestros conservacionistas trabajan sobre el terreno con socios para ayudar a proteger las tortugas y los huevos y realizan investigaciones para garantizar la protección de estas tortugas para las generaciones venideras.

As tartarugas-da-amazônia começaram a desovar na fronteira do Brasil com a Bolívia. Este é um dos eventos anuais de desova de tartarugas mais magníficos do mundo. Ocorre no Rio Guaporé, no Brasil, que na Bolívia ganha o nome Itenez. Nossos ambientalistas estão trabalhando com organizações parceiras para ajudar a proteger as tartarugas e os ovos, e também fazendo pesquisas para garantir a conservação dessas tartarugas para as próximas gerações.

Coffee With Turtles: Day Three

Sept. 30, 2022 from Bolivia/Brasil Border

Coffee With Turtles: Day Two

Sept. 28, 2022 from Bolivia/Brasil Border

Our conservationists on the ground traveled the river in the middle of the night and early morning and the turtles did not come out to nest. That happens. No predicting nature. The team instead broadcast a live report and discussion about the status of the nesting while showing us other wildlife. We're happy to bring this broadcast to you in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Nuestros conservacionistas en tierra recorrieron el río en medio de la noche y temprano en la mañana y las tortugas no salían a anidar. Eso pasa. Sin naturaleza predictiva. En cambio, el equipo transmitió un informe en vivo y una discusión sobre el estado de la anidación mientras nos mostraba otros animales salvajes. Nos complace brindarle esta transmisión en inglés, español y portugués.

Nossos conservacionistas em terra percorreram o rio no meio da noite e de madrugada e as tartarugas não saíram para nidificar. Isso acontece. Sem previsão de natureza. A equipe, em vez disso, transmitiu um relatório ao vivo e uma discussão sobre o status da nidificação enquanto nos mostrava outros animais selvagens. Estamos felizes em trazer esta transmissão para você em inglês, espanhol e português.

Coffee With Turtles: Day One

Sept. 27, 2022 from Bolivia/Brasil Border

Special ‘live to tape’ report on nesting event

We spoke to the conservationists on the ground via satellite transmission and saw the habitat from a birds-eye view via drones where the nesting is taking place.

Thank you to the conservationists who spoke to us:

German Forero Medina, WCS Colombia Science Director / Turtle Lead AAO

Enrique Y. Domic Rivadeneira, WCS Bolivia Turtle Specialist

Lonnie McCaskill, Curator, Animal Programs and Assistant Director, WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo

Omar Torrico, WCS Regional Conservation Technology Specialist, Americas

Marcos Amend, Deputy Director, WCS Brasil

Why We Brought You This Turtle Cam

  • Show you nature at its best – thousands and thousands of giant South American river turtles gathering for their annual nesting along the Guaporé River of Brazil, known as the Itenez River in Bolivia
  • Show you what conservation looks like in one of the most remote areas in South America – conservationists hard at work protecting these turtles from poaching for meat, oil and trade during this annual nesting event exposing them to poaching
  • Show you how conservationists gather the research for science which informs policies – actually counting the turtle populations year-to-year and doing other field science – which will be used to inform governmental policies to protect these turtles important to the ecology of this magnificent river and basin and to the natural cultural heritage of both Brazil and Bolivia.

Press Release

A Wonder of Nature

These giant South American river turtles arrive by the tens of thousands to nest on sand banks of a river along the Bolivia-Brazil border.

It is possibly THE largest gathering of any freshwater turtle species globally.

It’s also essential to the ecology of the river.

The hundreds of thousands of hatchlings produce food and biomass for other aquatic and terrestrial species while contributing to the river’s food chain. The giant South American river turtle is one of the most threatened species in the Amazon. It once numbered in the millions. Today, though, populations have been drastically reduced because of historical over-harvest for oil, meat, and trade.

With our local partners, including Ecovale (a local NGO), the Versalles community in Bolivia, environmental agencies from both countries, and local people, our WCS team has been coordinating a multi-national push to conserve this key population of the species.

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