You may not hear much about Sea Turtles or even know the different species names but one thing is for sure they are prevalent to Costa Rica’s beaches. Costa Rica has four main species of sea turtle, the Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Green, and the Leatherback.
Even before hatching these sea turtles have a hard life. From predators that like to steal eggs for food right out of the nest to poachers that do the same for money. Then these little guys have to deal with what happens after hatching. They have to make the long journey out to sea crossing what seems to be a desert road, filled with crabs, stray dogs, seagulls, and people before reaching the ocean full of a whole other type of hungry predators. It is estimated that only 1 out of every thousand of the hatchlings makes it out to sea to adulthood.
Safety and Conservation
These small sea turtles have a hard life as it is but to make things worse all four species are currently labeled as threatened, from vulnerably threatened to Critically threatened. The main threat they have to deal with is poachers, persons that want them for there meats, shells and eggs. Now Costa Rica has made a strong effort toward protecting them. Groups do this by raising awareness and also physically guarding them. It used to be that poachers were able to walk up and just take a few eggs but now they have to be much smarter. This is because of Park Rangers and volunteers that patrol the beaches day and night looking out for these nests and protecting them. For a person to be able to steal eggs they have to be very diligent, extremely careful and mostly do it late at night without lights.
Where to see them
To see these large sea turtles and the hatchlings you do not have to travel far. There are several beaches all over Costa Rica including, Tortuguero and Cahuita on the Caribbean, as well Papagayo, Ostional, and Corcovado are all great areas on the Pacific to see turtles both laying eggs and little ones hatching. One of the best ways to see the turtles is to take a nighttime tour when they are most active. Please note to also use a tour guide, for your safety and the Sea turtles safety.
- Olive Ridley: This is one of the most common sea turtles worldwide, they can grow up to 2 feet in length and weigh in at almost 100 pounds or 45 kilos.
- Hawksbill: The Hawksbill is distinct for the hawk type snout. It weighs in over twice as much as the Ridley at 100 kilos (200 pounds) and can grow up to three feet long.
- Green: The Green Sea Turtle is found on both sides of the country and is second biggest, weighing almost 600 pounds (300 kilos) and growing up to 4 feet long.
- Leatherback: Now these are the largest sea turtles you will find in Costa Rica, weighing up to 1500 pounds (650 kilos) and getting up to 8 feet long. Being the size of a small car they are by far one of the most amazing sights in the country.
So you might wonder how you can help Sea Turtles to stay off the endangered list? The best way is to support local groups and initiatives that are truly making a difference for the better in these animals lives. And of course why not come for a visit and check out some of these big Seas Turtles yourself.