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                      Turtle Conservation

Sea Turtle Conservation

Essays, Term Papers and Research Reports on Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

 Conservation Efforts

Olive Ridley Hatchling Conservation
Baby Sea Turtle

  Marine Turtles

Apart from the land turtles, Costa Rica boasts five out of seven marine species in the world. Among the most common are the green turtle, the leatherback and the olive ridley turtle. These animals have an incredible and almost inexplicable sense of direction, and they can travel up to 1500 miles to return to the nesting area.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings in Nest

Nesting Beaches

Females come ashore from two to six times each season, and lay up to 100 eggs each time! The mother returns to the sea, and the eggs hatch in about 6 weeks. Not very much is known about the lives of the small turtles after they come out of their shells, since they aren't spotted again until they are adults.


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Conservation and Protection in Costa Rica

Common nesting sites in Costa Rica National Parks are: Tortuguero ("tortuga" in Spanish means turtle), Ostional, Gandoca Manzanillo, Curu, Nancite and Playa Grande. These areas provide protection from the National Parks of Costa Rica, and many research agencies and conservation organizations are present on these beaches.  §


Playa Ostional

Ostional National Wildlife Refuge 

Despite the protection that turtle nesting areas receive, these animals are still threatened by their biggest predators- humans. Even in colonial times, turtles were valued because of their meat and their shell. Carib and other indians hunted them, and when the Spaniards arrived, they continued the custom. Furthermore, around 1910, turtle soup became a delicacy in Europe, and this raised the number of killings of turtles.

Fortunately despite the killing and the robbery of turtle eggs, nesting sites are being more protected than in the past, and secure hatcheries have been established.  §

Marine Turtle Species

Five of the world's seven species of marine turtles come to nest on the beaches of Costa Rica. The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests on the Caribbean coast and the Black Turtle or "Tora" and Olive Ridley or "Lora" (Lepidochelys olivacea) nest on the Pacific coast.

The Leatherback or "Baula" (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Hawksbill or "Carey" (Eretmochelys imbricata) nest on both coasts. There have been a few reports of Loggerhead or "Cabezona" (Caretta caretta) nesting on the Caribbean coast but none on the Pacific. §

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On both coasts of Costa Rica, one may find many beaches where turtles nest in solitary fashion which means that between one and twenty turtles may nest on any given night. There are at least forty beaches in this category. Due to their low numbers, it is difficult to observe turtles nesting on these beaches.

In the second category are the beaches where intensive nesting takes place. This means that between twenty and one hundred turtles may nest on a given night. These beaches are ideal for observing turtles nesting. Among beaches in this category are, Playa Tortuguero (Green Turtles and Leatherbacks) and Playa Grande and Playa Naranjo (Leatherbacks).

In the third category are those beaches where MASSIVE nesting takes place. This phenomenon, called "Arribada", is the synchronized nesting of thousands of turtles for between three and nine days. The most important of these beaches are Ostional and Nancite.