Turtle detective

Blog by: Diego Argueta, Sea Turtle Research Field Assistant

I am not a morning person. Yet, I have dedicated 6 months to waking up before dawn. What gets me and the rest of our small team out of bed is perhaps one of the most magnificent creatures to live amongst us – the sea turtle. As soon as the dark winding trail through the forest opens up to Playa Piro and the rising sun, thoughts of exhaustion leave the mind. Soft sand replaces thick mud underfoot as billowing waves overpower the eerie wails of the howler monkeys from within the jungle.

Sunrise on Playa Piro. Photo: Diego Argueta. 

Our business, as sea turtle research field assistants (although I prefer the job title of turtle detective) consists of monitoring and protecting the nesting sea turtles on our beach. By examining tracks left from the night before, a trained detective can determine how the turtle came onto the beach, approximately when, what species she was, if she left behind eggs, and most importantly, how to find her eggs.


A Green Sea Turtle track found on a morning patrol on Playa Piro. Photo: Diego Argueta. 


The end of the patrol is always the best part. At the end lies the hatchery where, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to release turtle hatchlings from the night before. Sometimes hundreds can be waiting eagerly to squirm their way through the beach gauntlet to the crashing waves of the ocean. I’m filled with pride for every turtle I see enter the ocean. At that point we’ve helped increase their hatching success by moving them to the hatchery and we’ve protected them from the passing black hawk on their way to the water. The rest is up to them.


150 Olive Ridley Sea Turtle hatchlings released from the hatchery on Playa Piro. Photo: Diego Argueta. 

It’s safe to say that at this point I enjoy long walks on the beach. Being a turtle detective is demanding but extremely rewarding work. I highly recommend coming down to see this incredible place for yourself. If not for 6 months then for just a morning.


Osa Conservation
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