ARCAS is a non-profit wildlife rescue and conservation organization that was founded in 1989 by a passionate group of Guatemalan citizens. The NGO strives to improve the chances of survival of endangered species, such as sea turtles, and the conservation of their habitats.
What is ARCAS and Who is Involved?
The immediate purpose of ARCAS was to build a rescue centre to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government. Their animal rescue centre is now one of the largest in the world. They recieve between 300 and 600 animals per year!
Since their establishment, ARCAS has grown from the initial rescue centre in Peten, to have three main project sites: Guatemala City area, Peten, and on the southern Pacific Coast, Parque Hawaii (not part of the Hawaiian Islands).
With their growth, they have branched out into other very necessary activities including environmental education, ecotourism, reforestation, marine turtle conservation and sustainable community development. ARCAS has also become more involved in the establishment and administration of protected areas.
In 2015, after years of intense community consultations and the development of management plans for disaster relief, research, ecotourism and waste management the Guatemalan Congress declared a 4000 + hectare protected area that included the second largest mangrove forest remaining in Guatemala!
We have partnered with ARCAS and can proudly say that a portion of our commissions from the purchases you make (at no extra cost to you) through links found on our website are received by the ARCAS team at Parque Hawaii!!!
Parque Hawaii is a short drive from Guatemala’s resort town of Monterrico and is dedicated to reducing the threats to leatherback and olive ridley sea turtle populations. Both species are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
At the centre, any visitor will find a warm welcome and environmental exhibits and trails that highlight the threats to sea turtles and other natural resources in the area. The team in Hawaii also operates three sea turtle hatcheries, a captive breeding program for the highly endangered yellow-naped amazon parrot and a turtle hospital.
During the sea turtle nesting season, volunteers and local guides conduct beach patrols late at night and in the early mornings looking for Mamas who have come ashore to lay their eggs.
The eggs are then dug up and relocated to the safety of the turtle hatcheries, where they are protected from predators.
In collaboration with students and researchers, staff and volunteers also record important details such as beach and hatchery ambient conditions, hatchling success rates, DNA studies and open-ocean population monitoring to help better understand these species and what we can do to protect them.
Another important aspect of ARCAS’s program in Hawaii is environmental education. ARCAS staff and volunteers offer English courses, conduct beach clean ups and turtle hatchling releases with local school children. This teaches them the need to conserve the natural resources they depend on.
Adult local residents are also given the opportunity to participate in training courses in ecotourism, food preparation and preservation, gender, health and sanitization to help them create healthy and sustainable livelihoods.
ARCAS relies on the support of volunteers and donors to carry out their amazing work. Now more than ever, FOR THE LOVE OF TURTLES, we need to help support marine organizations.
And lastly, as always, dive safe and have fun!
“When people who love the ocean come together, they can achieve extraordinary things.”
– Frances Beinecke