Our Jaco hotel is only a few minutes drive from one of the largest sea turtle refuges in Costa Rica. Each year thousands of baby turtles are released from this beach after they hatch. Its a really spectacular and moving site and something we highly recommend.
Egg Laying and Hatching takes place from mid-September through December. Sea turtles have been returning to the beach of their birth, to lay their eggs for millions of years. Special sensors in their shell recognize the sand, so they know they have the right beach. But, as the world's population has expanded, the turtle's habitat has been reduced. This remarkable wonder of nature is becoming harder and harder to see. There are fewer uninhabited beaches to return to, and this has significantly affected the sea turtles numbers.
One of the remaining protected beaches is at the southern end of PlayaHermosa, about half an hour away. Olive Ridley sea turtles return in September to Hermosa Beach, to lay their eggs as their ancestors did before them. This continues through the beginning of December. The hatching, and release of the babies, finishes around the end of December. In a guided tour a ranger or aide is recommended, it is possible to witness this amazing feat of nature. After the eggs are laid, the nest is carefully dug up, the eggs counted, and then the eggs are reburied in a secure location. Sea turtle eggs are highly prized as an aphrodisiac in the Costa Rican culture, and must be protected from poachers. Many animal species find them tasty as well. The eggs are safely placed in a fenced in area, and marked for the day of hatching.
\When the eggs hatch several weeks later, you will be encouraged to help with the release of the babies. These little guys are really cute, but quite helpless on land, and need all the help they can get to survive. The mortality rate of the hatchlings is very high, only about one in a hundred will return to the beach of their birth. This is a great family activity, and very educational for the kids. Ask the hotel manager to inquire at the preserve as to the time of the tour that evening. The turtle's arrival depends on the high tide, this changes nightly, thus the time of the tour will change as well.
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