Love has been in the air for our friendly sea turtles nesting along the beaches in the Osa Peninsula. Over the past few months, La Programa de Tortugas Marinas has been following the nesting habits of sea turtles on the Piro and Peje Perro beaches in hopes of finding out more about the number of turtles nesting on these shores. These beaches happen to be two of the most critical locations for nesting in the Osa, which makes this research extremely vital. Staff has been monitoring this project by walking along the beaches and counting the number of natural nests, nesting sites, and false nests! (A false nest, otherwise known as a false crawl, is a nest where a female turtle does not actually lay her eggs).
During the months of October, November, and December, Osa Conservation’s sea turtle conservation program spent between 75 and 105 hours sampling the nesting locations at the Piro and Peje Beaches. On Piro Beach, there were a total number of 173 nests found. The nests were made by the two most common species of sea turtle in the Osa, the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). On Peje Perro Beach, approximately 380 nests were found from our two turtle species. An interesting fact from the results of the sampling is, of the 553 nests found across the two beaches, 140 of the nests happened to be false nests!
Alongside the nest research occurring in the Osa, we also welcomed visitors of local hotels in Costa Rica to help us release over 7,000 turtles from October to December!
RFA’s and interns pose for a photo at our annual Sea Turtle festival this past September
November is the peak of the rainy season here in Osa, an ideal time for staying in, curling up with a good book and listening to the sheets of rain pelt the tin roof. Not so for the OC staff and our brave visitors and volunteers who have been working rain and shine to help us with various conservation projects! This month we’re finishing up the Sea Turtle season and will be saying our goodbyes to our amazing Research Field Assistants that have made the program possible. Sai, Emily, Bre and Katie, we are incredibly grateful for your dedication and contribution this season. Thank you also to Katharine, Jamie and Alyssa, our field assistants who joined us for the first half of the season and all of our volunteers.
The green sea turtle’s wounds are healing naturally
No two night patrols on the Osa are the same, but they usually have the same rhythm. Every now and then, however, something unexpected happens that makes the whole night worthwhile.
On November 3, I had one of these experiences. But to fully understand it, I have to tell you about the patrol I had on October 21. That night I was patrolling Pejeperro Beach with Emily, another Research Field Assistant. It was one of those long nights where we knew we would not be back to the station and in our beds until dawn.
An anticipatory rumble of thunder sounds far away, off shore. It has an almost calming sound as we make our way through the dark squishy forest path, the sky patterned with silhouettes of tree leaves. The jungle is alive with night sounds, from the echoing song of the nightjar to the almost space-invader beep of frogs on Las Rocas trail. A silky white two-toed sloth is spotted, high up in a tree, taking the night off. I envy its slow slumber for just a moment before I remember that this trail is taking me down to the beach, down to witness a spectacular and sacred event, one that only a few people in the world have the chance to be a part of. Tonight, I am walking a stretch of beach along which nesting mother sea turtles will, with great care and diligence, lay their precious eggs in the sand.