In Panama, legal rights given to sea turtles, boosting the ‘rights of nature’ movement

A member of The Leatherback Project for the conservation of leatherback turtles inspects the health of hatchlings from a nest on a beach Saturday near Armila, Panama. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

ARMILA, Panama — On a Panamanian beach long after dark, a group of undergraduate students dug into the sand to excavate a sea turtle nest, their lamps casting a soft red glow as they studied eggs, inventoried the success of the hatch and checked for any surviving hatchlings stuck at the bottom of the nest. Nearby, armed members of the National Border Service stood watch for protection in an area known for drug trafficking.