We here at Cūra Earth are thankful for what we have accomplished in 2016 and looking forward with anticipation for 2017. We had a big year in 2016, going over our goal for crowdfunding money to start research into sea turtle microbiomes, an integral part of their physiology that has not been well studied. We also received a grant to start a signature research program, researching the transmission of zoonotic (transmissible from animals to humans) tick borne diseases in Nicaragua. We are focusing much of our research in the regions surrounding the Reserva Padre Ramos in northwest Nicaragua, but we received ticks from research partners at the UNAN vet school in Leon, Nicaragua who had collected ticks from all over the country, and from the Bosawas Forest area from partners at UC Davis vet school. The ticks have been identified to species and had their bacterial DNA sequenced, and we are currently working on analyzing the data.

We plan on applying for bigger grants to start sampling humans, domestic animals, and wildlife with our partners. This research is incredibly important, as these diseases have been understudied in Central America, are often undiagnosed in this region, and can cause severe disease in animals and humans. We also aren’t sure how climate change in the tropics will affect tick ecology and the spread of diseases they carry. These are also important diseases economically, in other parts of the world they can affect economic production for cattle farmers, a large part of the economy in Nicaragua.

We are also excited to welcome new board members to our board of directors and scientific advisory committee (more on that in another post!), helping us usher in a new age of expanded programs and progress. We are actively fundraising to buy a great surfing hostel in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua, near our sea turtle and tick disease research, which would serve a number of functions including as a biological/research station for Nicaragua. Firstly, it would embed us in the community in a way we otherwise couldn’t. The hostel would provide us general operating funds through out the year, which we would use to build a small research lab and veterinary clinic, and to help provide public health services and education to the local community. We also hope that we could start offering short courses for Central American students as well as those from universities in other countries on tropical ecology, tropical veterinary medicine, and marine biology. It is a bold leap for us and if you are up to help us raise funds please contact us at info@curaearth.org for more information!

Thank you for your support in the last year, and please continue to support us! A great New Year to you and yours!