The Sinu River is one of only two rivers to support populations of the critically endangered Magdalena River turtle, Podocnemis lewyana.
The Magdalena River Turtle (Podocnemis lewyana) is endemic to Colombia where it is restricted to two rivers in the northwest, the Magdalena and the Sinú. It is Critically Endangered due primarily to overhunting and loss of nesting habitat. Two community-based conservation groups on the Sinú are committed to saving this turtle. In the community of Cotoca Arriba, a group known as Tortugas del Sinú protects nests from flooding when the hydroelectric dam re-leases water. This program is exceptionally well-organized, with teams designated for egg collection, incubation, monitoring, and juvenile rearing, resulting in hatching and releasing thousands of turtles annually. The enthusiasm with which the people of Cotoca Arriba embrace their duties is inspiring and provides hope for this species’ preservation.