Witnessing The Annual Arrival Of The Nesting Sea Turtles

  • 8 months ago
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Year after year, tourists flock to the beaches of Costa Rica to witness one of nature’s treasures– the annual arrival of the sea turtles for nesting. Thousands of turtles return to lay their eggs under the moonlight on the sandy beaches of Costa Rica. For those wildlife lovers out there, getting the chance to bear witness to this spectacle of nature is a must!

There are four species of sea turtles that return to the country’s beaches for their nesting grounds – leatherbacks, hawksbill, green, and olive ridley. Costa Rica provides the backdrop to witness this miracle of nature. To see them up close, a guided tour is highly recommended due to the environmental conservation efforts in the area and preserving the nesting sights so important to the species survival.

Costa Rica is on the frontline of turtle conservation with so many returning each year to nest. The leatherbacks and olive ridley sea turtles frequent the pacific coast, and have protected nesting sights. Should you wish to engage for a closer view of these magnificent creatures, reservations are required as the beach is carefully regulated to protect the grounds. Due to the immense challenges these animals face, egg poaching also became illegal in 1996 but unfortunately has continued to rise since then. Only a fraction of the turtles survive upon hatching, taking a long time for them to reach reproductive age.

Las Baulas National Marine Park in Guanacaste is named for the endangered leatherback turtles, the largest sea turtle in the world weighing an incredible 1,200 lbs. and averaging close to eight feet in length! The National Marine Park is the location of the second largest nesting ground for the species. Access to the beach at night is prohibited to help protect them during nesting and while the hatchlings are embarking on their return to the ocean,. Nesting season begins in October, typically running through mid-February.

Another option in Guanacaste is located in the Santa Rosa National Park, with two beaches that olive ridley favor – Nancite and Naranjo Beaches. Nancite is not easy to get to but worth the hike, especially if visiting during the height of the nesting season in October. Visitors are required to have permission from the nearby ranger station to visit the beach. While nesting occurs year around, October remains the best time when olive ridley’s may be seen climbing up shore in the thousands.

Interested in joining the effort to protect these endangered species? A program with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in conjunction with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications, accepts volunteers to help observe the nesting practices of these turtles in their natural habitat. A rigorous training program is required, covering turtle biology and behavior patterns, along with research methods within the projects studied, will allow participants to contribute to the important work these environmental groups are doing in helping to save these species from extinction.

Whether to witness the miracle of nature, or to become part of the change in helping to protect these endangered species, the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica is the place to go. Often considered as the birthplace of ecotourism, there are few places in the world that offer such a wide range of opportunities to be among animals in their natural habitat, in-between a day of golf or deep sea fishing.

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