When thinking of Costa Rica, your thoughts probably turn to the beautiful sandy beaches of and the picturesque sea shore, fresh with vibrant, tropical plant life. A place for a most relaxing vacation. However did you also know that there are sea turtles nesting and hatching around our local Manuel Antonio beaches?
Nesting on the beaches near Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region, the Olive Ridley will come on shore and dig up to two feet into the sand to lay up to 150 eggs. The best time to observe the Olive Ridley is during the months of July through November, especially when the moon is in its last quarter and during high tide.
The Olive Ridley is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act and International Union for Conservation and Natural Resources. From August 1 through November 30, you have the unique opportunity to take part in seeing these endangered species by scheduling a Turtle Tour. During the tour, you are accompanied by a bilingual guide who gets you up close and personal with the Olive Ridleys.
On the other side of Costa Rica, Tortuguero, better known as the “Land of Turtles,” is a village on the Northern Caribbean coast of the Limon province, which is surrounded by rivers and canals on all sides. Turtle season there runs mostly from April to October, and Tortuguero is the Atlantic nesting site for the Green Turtle. If you visit Tortuguero early in the season, you may have the opportunity to take a guided tour to see the Leatherback Turtle, the largest of the sea turtles. Leatherbacks can grow up to nine feet long and weigh approximately 1,900 pounds. They nest about four times per season and can lay between 50 and 80 eggs.
When visiting Makanda by the Sea between September to early January, you may be able to see nests of baby turtles making their first run to the ocean. This can best be observed in the early morning or the late evening, when the sun is not hot. You can observe this with a guided tour or independently. If you do choose to observe this independently, you should not dig up the nesting babies before they are ready to hatch, as this puts them at unnecessary risk. Also, never touch a turtle or get in its way. It needs to learn how to make it to the ocean on its own.
Whether you are observing the Olive Ridleys, Leatherbacks, or baby turtle nestings there are a few precautions you should keep in mind. Never disturb a nest or pick up turtle hatchlings. Any sudden movements, noises, sights, or smells may frighten the turtles or hatchlings, causing them to scatter in different directions. It is best to wear dark clothing, keep your distance, stay quiet, and avoid using flashlights or flash photography.
If you are interested in participating in a turtle tour during your Costa Rica vacation at Makanda by the Sea, please let our front desk staff know and they will be happy to coordinate the activity for you.