Learn about the fascinating arrival of sea turtles in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not only known for its beautiful beaches and tropical forests, but also for its biodiversity. If you look for a hotel in Guanacaste or a lodge to be more in contact with the nature, keep reading to learn about all the options available.

The olive ridley sea turtle, better known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle (or Tortuga Lora, in Spanish), is one of the two species famous for their “arribadas (arrival). This is a synchronized mass nesting, which means that thousands of female turtles can lay eggs in the same beach at the same time.

However, this is not currently happening with the Atlantic ridley sea turtle, which is considered an endangered species. This is because there are not as many remaining nesting sites in the world as they used to be. In Costa Rica, the arribadas occur mainly on the Ostional beach, as well as on Nancite beach.

What makes the Pacific ridley sea turtles unique?

National wildlife refuge

The olive ridley is one of the smallest sea turtles in the world. It inhabits mostly in the open ocean, but can also live in coastal areas. They can be found globally in tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Nevertheless, what makes them exceptional is not their world distribution or the olive-green color in their shells, but their behavior. Not only do they arrive in thousands to beaches in a mass nesting event, but they return to the same beach -or one in the general area- they hatched from.

The olive ridley turtles take between 10 and 15 years to reach reproductive maturity, which means they are able to orientate themselves to Ostional Beach even after so many years. Another impressive aspect is the fact that, since they are migratory, this means they can travel thousands of kilometers during the nesting season.

Nesting season | When and where can you watch an arribada?

This is a unique event you cannot miss, especially if you are interested in the marine wildlife. The photos and videos do not do justice to the spectacle, especially when thousands of turtles arrive at the same beach in a nightly race to bury their eggs before the sun rises again.

The arribadas happen between July and December, with the biggest ones usually taking course between October and November. The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge requires visitors to see turtles with an official guide, in order to provide a safe space for the nesting and hatching process.

You will be required not using flashlights, as well as not handling or touching the turtles or their nests. This is to avoid poaching or confusion of the turtles. It will also regulate the number of people on the beach, which means you will not be in a crowded space beside turtles!

If you are interested in this experience, the drive to this national park is only one hour and a half away from the Blue Zone Resort. The ideal departing time is around 3 to 3:30 pm, which gives you time to buy the $10-ticket at the guide office and see the start of the arribada. This is the perfect moment since the sun sets and it is easier to watch the coming of the turtles.

What to expect during watching an arribada?

The nesting process of sea turtles starts by digging a hole in the sand, where the clutches of eggs will be laid. For the olive ridley, this amount can be around 100 eggs – a needed quantity, since the odds of survival of the baby turtles will be threatened both on land and sea. After this has been done, the mother turtle moves its entire body to throw the sand down into the dug hole and cover its eggs.

It is worth noting that the arribada is a rather impressive moment, but the hatching is amazing too. Despite it is harder to catch due to its unpredictability. The eggs hatch approximately 55 days after the nesting. The process happens mostly at night, but it starts around sunset. The hatchlings will then start their trip to the water, crawling towards the bright horizon.

Want to know a fun fact? The gender of the turtles will be determined by the temperature of the sand! Here, at the Blue Zone Resort, we will help you watch any of these events– it will be a memorable moment that you will not forget. Make your plans to live and enjoy this amazing experience.

Survival of the baby turtles

Source: Nat Geo WILD – Youtube