Sea Turtles lay eggs on beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean shores of Costa Rica every month of the year which in turn means hatchlings are emerging somewhere every day. Some species spend most of their lives far out to sea but others are commonly seen by divers and snorkelers around the popular island and reef dive sites, especially during nesting or hatching peaks. If you’ve always wanted to see & help sea turtles book a trip to Playa Nido and join us in saving the sea turtles.
Our team dug out a safe area and filled it with sand from the beach to better accommodate the turtle's natural environment. Adding a fence for protection from wildlife is crucial to the baby turtle's survival.
Costa Rica’s Sea Turtles
There are very few creatures whose big life events are so accessible to people. Sea turtles are amazing spending months, years or for some males their entire life feeding in the open ocean hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from shore. But each is born on land and the females at least must return to land to dig nests and lay eggs.
With the ability to stay submerged for up to three hours before returning to the surface for a gulp of air they seem almost more fish than reptile. Unlike other reptiles they also aren’t strictly cold blooded and can raise their body temperature 8 °C (about 18 °F) above the temperature of the surrounding water.
Another slightly bizarre fact related to temperature is that sea turtles have temperature dependent sex determination. How warm or cool the sand in the nest is for about two weeks during the middle of the incubation of the eggs determines whether the brood will be all female, all male or a mix. If the temperature is less than 27 °C (81 °F) they will all be male, more than 30 °C (86 °F) all female and in between results in a mix.
“The brains of turtles contain particles of the magnetic mineral magnetite. Hatchlings are imprinted by the earth’s magnetic field as they leave the nest. Since the angle of inclination of the magnetic field varies with latitude, adults return to the natal beach to breed using the magnetic field for navigation” (p. 754 The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica – Savage).
Other scientists have proposed that they use olfactory imprinting of the water or beach and smell their way back to the same beach. It is known that they can chemically sniff salt concentrations in the sand and use this ability to determine when they have passed the normal high tide line and it’s safe to build a nest that won’t be washed away.
Come experience this incredible natural event and help save the sea turtles at Playa Nido.