Discovering an Olive Ridley sea turtle Paradise

Olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the most common specie of marine turtle in Costa Rica.  Driven by the lunar cycle, females are famous for crawling ashore in massive synchronized nesting events, involving thousands of individuals during and around the full moon. These events, known as “arribadas”, are only known to occur on 8 beaches around the world. Two of these beaches are located in Costa Rica: Nancite and Ostional.

Volunteers monitoring olive ridley nesting activity on Playa Corozalito

Well folks, Pretoma researchers might have found another one.

Pretoma monitored nesting activity at Corozalito beach on the southern portion of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula from August 15 to November 11, 2008 and recorded 1420 nesting females. By comparison, Caletas, one of Costa Rica’s most important solitary nesting beaches received 1340 nesting females during last season (July-December). Now, this alone isn’t a stunning figure but keep in mind that Caletas beach is 5 km. long, and Corozalito is only 800 meters.

With spikes of over 100 nestings per night, centering around the full moon in August and September, Corozalito could be a developing arribada beach. While this number of nesting turtles is small compared to arribada totals for Nancite and Ostional (thousands per night), there is no mistaking that it’s a meca for the species in this country.

Olive ridley hatchlings

More data is needed to determine the beach’s nesting female population. Thanks to sponsorship from the RIESTER Foundation, Pretoma is conducting a season long study of Corozalito this year to better understand this beach’s place within the arribada beach hierarchy.

The best news is that you can help with this project!! If you would like to study the behavior and population trends of nesting olive ridleys at Corozalito, please visit Pretoma’s website at www.pretoma.org or send an email to voluntarios@pretoma.org.

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