Now if you had to pick a unique and cool travel experience, what would it be? For me it would be watching endangered sea turtles nest in Tortuguero Costa Rica. I was a part of a guided tour check here for the full review and part of the tour included a stop in Tortuguero National Forest.
Tortuguero National Forest is a protected rainforest in Costa Rica and is only accessible by boat or plane. I had the opportunity to be on a tour that had partnered with BBC Earth. The highlight of the trip was spending a night on the beach watching these amazing creatures bring new life into the world.
Let me back up a bit and give you some context before jumping right in. When we arrived in Tortuguero we had a quick class on the green sea turtles. If you are at all up to date on global warming, you know plastic is killing our planet. I won’t get too off topic here BUT that has caused many animals to face extinction. Now while animals do naturally go extinct, the rate at which the green sea turtles are dying is not natural. They eat plastic bags in the ocean and die from being unable to process them. A turtle GI tract is the size of humans and some are carrying around 80 pieces of plastic in their stomach! Just imagine that in your own stomach, its insane!
A sea turtle conservatory is located in Tortuguero because it’s the largest nesting place for green sea turtles in the western hemisphere! Hawksbill, giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles also use this area to nest. The program offers tours to see turtle nests and see baby turtles be hatch.
Let me put a disclaimer out there, as an observer watching is ALL we do. We do not interact with the turtles in any way. One woman had asked if they help get the baby turtles safely into the water and the answer was no. You may be asking if they are endangered why don’t they help? It’s not only plastic killing the turtles, its people too. It’s a delicacy in many areas to eat turtle eggs and turtle meat. This sanctuary gives them a safe place from poachers to nest safely and for their babies to be born.
They however do not interfere with natural selection. Turtles lay eggs with boys on the bottom and girls on the top and the ratio is about 80 to 20. The girls hatch first and race to the ocean, most of them won’t make it due to predators waiting nearby. While the predators are distracted the boy turtles will race out. Now if you are a lady, you’re probably thinking what lazy pieces of s**t. I thought so too BUT it makes sense. With more girls to spare than the males, they must go last so the species can continue.
Once we were fully educated on how the process would work, we were told that the tour would start in the middle of the night. You have to dress in all black and wear no reflective colors or bring a camera unless they have red lights. This is because it can distract the turtles while they are laying the eggs.
My group meet up at 1:00am looking like a gang of robbers. Our tour guide had us walk along the forest and then we arrived at the beach. It was so silent and just so stunning! We had a full moon and it provided so much light to see by. We crouched in the jungle and watched these huge animals hoist themselves onto land and start digging. They dig massive holes and then the female positions herself to lay the eggs. Once the turtle is in “labor” we could approach to watch. They completely focus on their task and don’t notice people; this is also a time they are vulnerable to predators. They drop HUNDREDS of ping pong looking eggs into the hole.
It really was a once in a lifetime experience! I live for experiences that are unique like this and are for the betterment of our planet! Tour profits are poured back into the program to continue the conservation efforts. If you are in Costa Rica during the nesting (June through early October) I would 100% recommend going! You will not be disappointed, promise!
Make sure to drop a comment below if you decide to go and see these beautiful turtle’s nest!