Costa Rica

We spent almost a week on the Nicoya Peninsula staying in Nosara right near the beach. 5 miles north of Nosara is Ostional, an important nesting site for the olive ridley turtle. We went up to see the arribada (arrival) twice while we were there and saw many turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs. We weren't there for a full blown arribada, which can see thousands of turtles coming to shore as once, but we did see several hundred on our visits.

This exhausted turtle is heading back to the water after the effort of digging a nest in the very hot sun, and laying her eggs. They move very slowly while heading back to the water.

The unique thing happening in Ostional is that the local villagers are allowed to harvest the turtle eggs legally, as opposed to the poaching of the eggs that occurs in the middle of the night at other nesting sites. The villagers are given quotas for each arribida, sometimes no harvesting is allowed, at other times up to 35 percent of the eggs are taken. The idea is that many of the eggs laid during the early part of an arribada are destroyed by later arriving turtles, so the legal harvest concentrates on the first 2 days of an arribada and then

the nests are protected by the villagers from illegal poaching and animals such as the coatamundi, raccoons, coyotes and other egg hungry species.

I found watching the harvest a bit difficult, seeing the village out en mass digging up the newly laid eggs set me to broiling about our interference with what should be left alone. But illegal poaching does more damage than this controlled harvesting, and the idea is that the legal eggs on the market will decrease the demand for poached eggs, so in the long run it may be the best thing for the olive ridley turtles. Who knows, years will tell, the olive ridley is under assault from other places as well. Adults are taken for their flippers, for shoe making and are caught in fishing nets.
 

back

next

Purchase Prints of these Photographs here

 

Home