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Tourists Thwart Turtles from Nesting in Costa Rica

Discussion in 'Sea turtles' started by Cowboy_Ken, Sep 19, 2015.

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  1. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    By ELISABETH MALKIN and PAULINA VILLEGASSEPT. 18, 2015- NY times

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    The effects of El Niño helped ease access to Ostional Beach in Costa Rica, drawing tourists who disrupted sea turtle nesting. Credit Sindicato de Trabajadores de MINAE

    MEXICO CITY — The day-trippers swarmed onto the beach to watch one of nature’s most extraordinary sights, hundreds of thousands of olive ridley sea turtles crawling out of the ocean to lay their eggs in the sand.

    The turtles did not want the company. Scared off by the thousands of tourists massed along Ostional Beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, snapping selfies and perching their children on the turtles’ backs, the ancient reptiles simply turned around and retreated into the sea.

    “It was a mess,” said Yamileth Baltodano, a tour guide who was at the scene when the turtles were scared away two weeks ago.

    What happened during the first weekend in September was a one-time event, when a confluence of factors allowed the utterly unexpected to take place. But it was a cautionary tale for the conservationists charged with protecting the turtles, which are classified as vulnerable, not to mention a social media sensation. Now Costa Rican officials are scrambling to make sure it does not happen again.

    “We are reassessing the way we work and the way we tackle the issue,” Mauricio Méndez, deputy director of the Tempisque Conservation Area, which includes Ostional Beach, said in a telephone interview on Friday.
    The olive ridley nesting season, from August through October, coincides with Costa Rica’s rainy season, which ordinarily provides a natural barrier that protects the turtles. During that time, the beach is all but cut off by the flood tide of the swollen Nosara River, which blocks access on bridges. Even in the dry season, the beach is accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle driven by a local guide.

    But this year, low rainfall caused by El Niño left the river all but dry, making passage to the beach easy.

    Mr. Méndez said officials were working on changes before the next arrival, expected on Oct. 4. He said he hoped to double the number of police officers and security guards, and even to bring in the Coast Guard. Groups will only be allowed in with guides and will be limited to the edges of the nesting area.

    Photo

    Thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles returned to the sea when they found their nesting places crowded with tourists. Credit Sindicato de Trabajadores de MINAE
    Despite the commotion, turtles still managed to lay some eggs, perhaps at night. Mr. Méndez and his team found many more eggs than they expected after the frolicking tourists went home.

    “A tornado can be happening, and they will continue to deposit the eggs, carve it out, nest, and go back to sea,” he said.

    The turtles, who lay their eggs during a three- to four-day period each month, began to arrive early on Sept. 4. Photographs of the phenomenon quickly began to spread on social media.

    From a distance, aboard a boat, Vanessa Bézy, a sea turtle biologist, watched in dismay as hordes of tourists clogged the beach, overwhelming the guards.

    “I almost had a panic attack because it was so crowded,” said Ms. Bézy, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has been studying nesting behavior at Ostional Beach for five years. “It was basically a free-for-all.”
    Yellow Turtle01 and domalle like this.
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    Such idiots. The biologist should have called authorities and had the people removed and anyone touching them arrested with hefty fines. And some people wonder why I don't like most humans, really. The dumbest species on earth.
    Yellow Turtle01 likes this.
  3. tortoise5643

    tortoise5643 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    If I was in a situation like this, I would have wanted to stay and watch. But no way I would get close to them, and definitely wouldn't consider putting children on the for pictures. Such idiots.
  4. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Thanks, Ken.
    Relatively benign behavior from curious earthlings and their spawn.
    Histortically (not a typo) the turtles would have been slaughtered and their eggs gathered and eaten.
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  5. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Yes, you are so correct here. Afterwards us carbon based bipeds would have gone on to the monkeys or anything else slow and foolish enough for us to get easily.
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