Today we will provide some information about the Turtle Nesting at Ostional Beach. In the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula at the Province of Guanacaste sits the beautiful black sand beach of Ostional, located about 6 hours from and 3 hours from the City of Liberia.
The Town of Ostional is a very small remote town in the Nicoya Peninsula off of the Pacific Ocean. In order to arrive to this location you need 2 things: patience and a tall car somewhat like an all-terrain vehicle. The reason for this is that once you exit the main road into the path to arrive to Ostional is a complete adventure, the roads are unpaved and it’s basically like crossing the jungle. In the process you would need to cross many small rivers and muddy areas; and if it’s raining the adventure just got a lot trickier because not only the fact that it’s raining but the roads get muddy and you need to set yourself to rally driver mode. But once you have overcome these tricky roads and crossed the tiny rivers you will arrive to the beautiful, humble and small town of Ostional.
Ostional is not only known for being one of the few with black sand and amazing waves, but because of something much more special. Ostional Beach is known for being home to a very beautiful act of nature. During the rainy season here in Costa Rica between May through November, Olive Ridley Sea Turtles or most commonly known in Costa Rica as “Tortugas Lora” and some Leatherback Turtles invade this beach in order to lay their eggs, this beautiful act of nature takes places usually at night time, the turtles come, they drag their heavy bodies ashore, find a spot away from the high tide line on the black beach sand, and with their hind legs start digging a hole in order to lay the eggs. Each turtle can lay anywhere from 80-100 eggs, the eggs have the same size, color and weight of ping pong balls, the eggs have a very soft and flaccid texture so the baby turtles waiting to hatch don’t have such a hard time making their way out to a new life. The hatching process can take up to 45 days and usually takes place at night time, but some hatching can be observed during the wee hours of the morning. Once the hatching process starts, the baby turtles not only struggle to dig themselves from the sand, but they also run towards the water, unfortunately not all the turtles that hatch make it in life, this is due to the tremendous amount of predators they have to face.
Unfortunately, the process of laying and hatching of the eggs is not only observed by many tourist, but also many predators, such as local stray dogs, raccoons, crabs and vultures, due to these predators, some of the turtle eggs don’t make it. Fortunately they have set up patrols at night to watch out for these predators and poachers as well since this is such a common act here, poachers range from locals and outsiders come to the beach at night, take large batches of eggs and sell them for profit to other locals and restaurants. Some restaurants in the main cities and in the surroundings of the Ostional Beach pay top dollar for these turtle eggs. Now you may be asking yourself who are the people patrolling these turtles at night? Well the locals are, why? The Costa Rican government allows the locals only to take a limited amount of eggs for personal consumption in exchange for taking care of the beach; from the cleaning of the beach to taking care of the turtles themselves and patrolling the beach at night from poachers.
If you are interested in viewing such beautiful act of nature, you can do it without a problem, as a matter of fact, the Turtle Nesting at Ostional Beach is becoming year by year as one of the main natural events to observe in Guanacaste, but first you need to fallow a set of rules. One: you need to be accompanied by a professional tour guide from the Ostional Wildlife Reserve Center. Two: a Flashlight with a red colored filter, these filters is a small piece of colored plastic tied with a rubber band (this can be purchased from the local supermarkets). The reason for the red filter is because the nesting part usually takes place at night time between 9pm to 12am local time. The red filter simulates the light of the moon and does not hurt their eyes; therefore, it does not interrupt the nesting process. If the nesting process is interrupted, then the nesting comes to a holt and the turtles go back in the water without releasing all of the eggs and the result if tragic; this is why the flashlight with the red filter is completely necessary. You might be thinking “That’s not enough light for me to see at the beach at night”; well, the red flashlight and the light of the moon is more than enough guidance, also the certified tour guide can oblige this for you. The 3rd and final thing is optional, a camera that can record video or just a video camera, just keep in mind that the flash on cameras is not allowed and the final step is to whisper or just make complete silence, this is because we need to simulate that we are not there, this is because the turtles become shy and will also interrupt their nesting process.
The next following weeks magic on the beach happens. This is the time where the baby turtles start to hatch and start to dig themselves from the sand and make their way into the water, now I know, you’re probably thinking “Why not help them into the water instead of having them run to the water”. This is because the baby turtles need to develop their respiratory system in order to survive in the water once they make it there. The baby turtles are partially blind and can’t see much for the first few minutes of live out of the water, but they do have a sense of smell, so the smell of the breeze coming from the salty ocean water is their guidance into the water. Once they make it to the water, all we need to do is pray for them since they have another predator waiting for them inside.
I highly recommend to come and watch the Turtle Nesting at Ostional Beach, since Costa Rica is one of two places in the word where this takes place and why not, maybe take some . I know that just the fact of getting there is a task of its own, but trust me I’ve witness such sight and at the end it’s completely worth it. Remember that all you need is an all-terrain vehicle and something that I forgot to mention is a $10 fee. These funds are used toward keeping the beach clean and taking care of the turtles.