Tortuguero celebrates the mass of green turtles nesting

 October 1st, 2009 |    turtlebeach

From the September 6, 2009 issue of La Nacion – translated into English.

Tortuguero, Limón. Tortuguero National Park celebrated a spectacular 2009 season of green turtles nesting on the beach.

The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is a marine species considered in danger of extinction that stands out because they are ‘vegetarian’, possess a hard shell, measure over a meter long and can weigh up to 200 kilos.

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The animal’s skin is brown, gray or black and it has yellow-edged scales on the head. The turtles migrate across open seas, especially in the Caribbean, and spawn here in Costa Rica every year between July and October.

Normally, after visiting these beaches, scientists can count more than 150,000 nests per season.

However, in the previous year, the count was down about 69,768 nests over the recorded nests in the 2007 nesting season in 2007 (177,620), which raised fears about the decline in this population of turtles.

However, this year, scientists now breathe a sigh of relief because as of Friday they had counted 8785 nests of turtles, 189 more than those found in September, 2008. This indicates that this season could be far more successful than previous ones on record.

Moonlit night.

The morning of Wednesday, September 3 was a good example of the good health of this population of turtles in the country.

That night they recorded at least 20 turtles nesting in the eight miles of public beach access. Remember, this park has 28 miles of beach.

Between 0 hours and 3 am, at the start of the first two kilometers, five green turtles lay their eggs in the warm sand.

In the remaining six miles monitored by volunteers and park guides 15 other turtle nests were found.

Each of the turtles took about two hours for their egg laying ritual. First, with great difficulty she dragged her body to her chose site.

"We do not know exactly how they select the space, but it is believed that they know the temperature and humidity of the sand because if this is too hot or too wet, the eggs will decompose. "That’s one scenario," said guard Jorge Cedeno, who has worked there for 10 years.

The turtles then dig pits 50 to 75 inches deep in dry sand. Unlike other turtle species, the green nests the vegetation close to the beach, about 20 meters from the water.

In each nest, the turtles lay about 110 round, yellow eggs. Then they cover the hole with moist sand for camouflage. "Hopefully, in about 60 days, the newborn turtles make their way to the sea," said one of the guards.

"We’re excited because we believe that there has been a substantial improvement in the population of green turtles in Tortuguero", Emma Harrison, scientific director of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) told La Nacion.

This organization has 50 years researching the behavior of sea turtles.

According to scientific evidence that the health of this population of turtles is good in the area.

She also stressed that the surge in nests result in benefits for the 1,300 residents of Tortuguero, which subsist on tourism.

"Now there are more turtles here, and I think that is a result of the protection of recent years", said Wilfredo Sanchez, naturalist guide for 11 years.