The „arribada“ of the olive bastard turtle is a true miracle of nature. And in the meantime unfortunately also a huge source of income for the region. The sea turtle comes between September and October to the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. Just on very specific nights it arrives at the beach to lay eggs. Thousands of animals at once drag their 35-40kg heavy bodies up the sand.
The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is committed to the protection of endangered reptiles and is also present at Playa Ostional. In the place there are several beach entrances, at which one pays 10$ entrance fee, in order to be allowed to go with a local guide to the beach. But at the beach is nothing to notice about the protection of the turtles.
Hundreds of tourists are walking back and forth on the sand, posing with the turtles and almost overrun the 70cm tall animals. Instead of a limited area, in which the tourists may move freely and observe the turtle from a safe distance, the whole beach is open and free to walk on.
No one cares
The local guide is barely interested in the behavior of the tourists. After all he starts digging at an egg laying turtle. So one can see how the eggs fall into the sand. If the animal feels disturbed by that or not, does not seem to play a role. All over are lying broken shells of the ping pong ball sized eggs.
Whether this circumstance is due to the tourists, the natural enemies (coyotes, monitors, wild boars, dogs etc.), or the turtles themselves, is unclear. Because with so much rush even the turtles lose the overview and by mistake dig out other nests. And one had the impression that already in the afternoon there were more people than turtles on the beach, than it is best to leave the scene before sunset. Because then the number of visitors really increases.
Keep in mind
Anyone who really cares about the turtles should waive this touristic event. And better protect the animals with a sustainable and plastic-free lifestyle. If you want to go there anyway, you should keep some things in mind. When you go in the dark and you want to use a flashlight, you could scare the turtles away and interrupt their egg deposition. Which endangers the species.
Always ask your guide when and where to use the flashlight. Pets, coolers and bags are forbidden, as well as alcoholic beverages, smoking, music and swim or surf in the ocean. At no time the turtles should be touched. And it is recommended to watch them from a distance of at least 3m.
In Costa Rica it is legal to sell some of the eggs. It is said, that the revenues directly go into turtle projects. So in case you really need those eggs, buy them at Ostional Integral Development Association and ask for a stamped receipt. Because an illegal purchase is penalized with a fine around 700$ and up to three years in jail. So the easiest thing to do is, just do not buy those eggs.