Living in Costa Rica, Marina Kuperman has been inspired to protect sea turtles. Her new book Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat is one way she’s helping to educate and involve teenagers in understanding how important it is to protect these animals from extinction.
The story revolves around a typical suburban American, Penelope, who is forced to go to Costa Rica with her parents when her father gets a new job. Her parents enroll an unwilling Penelope and her little brother at the Leatherback Turtle Biological Station camp. Penelope isn’t pleased but forgives the horrid accommodations and the never ending bug brigade when she sees the turtle. She pledges to do all she can to save it from extinction. But hang ten, dudes! Penelope is about to get help. One lonely night, as she’s patrolling the beach for turtle poachers, she stumbles and falls directly into the arms of the local surf champ. Together they dive into the world of surfing and marine preservation.
I interviewed Marina recently during her blog tour.
What took you to Costa Rica in the first place? I moved to Costa Rica about 4 years ago because my husband got a full grant to get his masters degree in Wildlife Management here. And because it’s such a great place we decided to stay.
How did you get involved with the turtles? We took a trip to Tamarindo beach and Playa Grande. At night the thing to do is to go on a tour to the Leatherback Turtle Biological Center and see the turtles lay their eggs. It was one of the most magical moments of my life, and when I found out that they are on the brink of extinctioin I was moved to act. My son is three years old, and I really want him to see this animal in its natural habitat when he grows up. With that in mind, I became inspired to write a young adult book about marine preservation. Environmental education, if not handled properly, can be an extremely boring topic, so I incorporated the surf town of Tamarindo with surfing action, beach parties, teen romances and marine preservation.
Why did you decide to write a book aimed at teenagers? Teens and kids are the future. They will be the most affected by the problems of today. However, since they are not so set in their ways yet, it’s easier for them to start changing the way they do things from an early age so that it becomes part of their life.
What are you doing in Costa Rica besides writing books? For now I’m focusing on getting my website www.turtlefeetsurfersbeat.com and teen community going.
Can teenagers really make a difference in protecting the turtles, or on any other environmental issue? Absolutely. It’s about making the right moves from the start rather than doing something wrong and then trying to repair it. The thing with teens, if they are having a fun time doing something, it doesn’t
seem like they are really doing anything at all, it just feels right!
How threatened are the turtles in Costa Rica and elsewhere? They are literally almost extinct. 15 years ago 1600 turtles came to nest on Playa Grande; today, if there are 50 turtles they call it a good year. Scientists are predicting that if we don’t do something drastic, there will be no more leatherbacks in less than 10 years.
What are the biggest threats the turtles face? Overdevelopment. Beach front land is hot property no matter where you live. The strong lights, too much noise and pets scare the turtles away and they end up staying in the waters and not coming in to lay their eggs.
For more information about the community of teens, surfers, artists, scientists and everyone else Marina is involving in marine preservation, visit www.turtlefeetsurfersbeat.com