Tourists in Costa Rica prevent turtles from nesting

Thousands of olive ridley sea turtles crawled up onto the sand along Ostional Beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast to lay their eggs, but were scared off by humans wanting to witness the event and take selfies with the turtles.

According to nytimes,com, the turtles did not enjoy the company of people perching their children on their backs taking pictures, and returned to the sea without laying their eggs.

The olive ridley turtle’s nesting season runs from August through October and normally that is the same time frame as Costa Rica’s rainy season.  But due to low rainfall this year, the beach, which is normally cut off because of swollen rivers, was still accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles and was being visited by tourists, getting in some beach time at the end of summer.

Costa Rican officials are working to prevent such an event before they expect the turtles to come in again on October 4.  They plan to double the number of security guards, and bring in the Coast Guard to help with the crowd.  Groups of tourists will only be allowed to certain areas of the beach near the edges of the nesting sites, and guides will be escorting them to the proper areas where they will not interfere with the nesting.

Apparently some of the turtles were successful in laying their eggs, probably coming back in at night after the tourists had left.  Mauricio Méndez, deputy director of the Tempisque Conservation Area, which includes Ostional Beach, said his team found many more nests than they expected to find.

The turtles lay their eggs over a three- to four-day period that usually begins in late August, but this year they started to arrive on the 4th of September.

Olive ridley turtles are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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