Female sea turtles have to come ashore in order to build their nest and lay eggs. What many people do not know is that most of them return to the same spot each year to build a home for their new babies.
One of the more well-known sea turtle sanctuaries in the world is Ostional Beach in Costa Rica. The landscape of the Costa Rica Pacific beaches is ideal for sea turtles to lay their young because of the privacy and protection it provides.
Sea turtles lay eggs around August to October, which is the same time as Costa Rica’s rainy season. The flood tide of the swollen Nosara River makes it difficult for people to access the beach, thereby protecting the turtle eggs.
However, last September 6, the peaceful routine of the sea turtles in Costa Rica were rudely disrupted by overeager tourists who flocked to the beach to see the sea turtles. Tourists were able to pass through the river easily this year due to El Niño.
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Not only were the turtles distracted by the noise, but also by the tourists’ profuse picture taking while the sea turtles tried to crawl ashore. It was also reporter that some tourists put their children on the sea turtles’ back. “It was a mess,” said Yamileth Baltodano, a tour guide who was at the Costa Rica beach when the turtles were scared away. Instead of laying their eggs, the sea turtles turned away and swam back to the sea. “The turtles encountered so many people on the beach that some returned without completing the nesting process,” said Leonel Delgado, secretary of the Environment Ministry's Workers Union.
Fortunately, the conservation was still able to find more eggs than expected, as the sea turtles probably returned to the beach at night when the tourists had already left. \
The next arrival of the sea turtles in Costa Rica is expected to take place on October 4th, and officials are already making sure that the disturbance won’t happen again.
“We are reassessing the way we work and the way we tackle the issue,” Mauricio Méndez, deputy director of the Tempisque Conservation Area, said in an interview.
This time, they will make sure that licensed tour guides would accompany tourists going to the beach and make sure that they take the proper precautions so as not to disturb the sea turtles.