January 11, 2010

Atlantic Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches

There are several prominent organizations that focus their efforts on the Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches. Tortuguero Costa Rica is one of the prime areas for ongoing research as well as Atlantic sea turtle preservation and eco tourism.

Of the seven sea-turtle species found on the planet, four are generally considered Atlantic sea turtles. The four species common to the Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches near Tortuguero in Central America are the Atlantic green turtles, Kemp’s Ridley turtles, the Leatherbacks and Loggerheads.

There are excellent programs in place that concentrate on the study and protection of the Green sea turtles, the Giant Leatherbacks, the Hawksbill turtles and the Loggerhead turtles that nest in this area.

Turtle Populations

Recent research shows that turtle population numbers are hard to pin down, but in the past couple of decades, organizations have been able to conduct more accurate research.

Teams composed of scientific experts and enthusiastic, caring volunteers observe, count and even tag several species of turtles on various Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches, the majority of which can be found in the more populated nesting beaches of Tortuguero Costa Rica.

Tourism & Turtle Nesting Beaches

Humans have caused much of the reduction in turtle populations, directly affecting turtle habitats and nesting beaches with ocean-front development, high-impact fishing and pleasure boating.

Changes in tourism over the last few years have increasingly helped to protect the vicarious populations of sea turtles. Today’s tour organizers are now attempting to combine tourism and eco-travel vacations with volunteer activity that helps protect turtles while educating curious vacationers.

Atlantic sea turtle nesting beach research teams will tag the turtles as they come ashore to bury their eggs. In many cases the researchers are also able to re-direct turtles that become disoriented by lights from condominiums and beach-front residences. In one study, teams were able to help turtles hatch nearly 3,000 eggs, with a minimum of disorientation or predator damage.

Atlantic Sea Turtle Nesting Season

The Atlantic turtle nesting season lasts about three-months although different turtle species will nest at different times of the year.

In March, April and May research teams focus on the giant Leatherback turtles that come ashore at this time of year to nest. Giant Leatherback turtles may reach weights of 2,000 pounds (one ton) or more!

In July, August and September, the John H. Phipps Green Turtle Research Station in Tortuguero Costa Rica, along with the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and other such organizations, will focus on other species of Atlantic sea turtles, some of which may grow to 350 pounds and four feet in length.

Eco Tourism

To increase awareness and appreciation for the Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches and their inhabitants, research projects usually coincide with several tourism activities, such as the Green Market, festivals with live acoustic music, beach parades and more.

During these events, various table displays and shops offer different types of turtle themed gear, including T-shirts, wooden ornaments and even license plates that spell out the word “turtle.” All souvenirs and activities are planned with conservation and turtle welfare in mind.

Endangered Hawksbill Turtles

In addition to the Leatherback and Green Turtle, the Hawksbill is of particular interest to science and to eco-tourists. It was placed on the endangered list nearly 40 years ago.

The Hawksbill species is a medium-size sea turtle that generally nests between April and November each year. The Hawksbill is commonly found in the Caribbean Ocean and the western parts of the Atlantic. The alarming decline in Hawksbill numbers is primarily due to human predators who hunted the species for its shell.

Costa Rica Fully Escorted Tours

The Atlantic turtle nesting beaches in Tortuguero Costa Rica is one of this country’s biggest tourist draws. The nesting beaches and the accompanying Green Turtle Research Station offer tourists the opportunity to learn about and help protect endangered turtle species while enjoying nature and the Caribbean Ocean.

All Inclusive Tour Operators Caravan Tours includes the Atlantic turtle nesting beaches and Tortuguero Costa Rica as part of their Costa Rica tours. Affordably priced at just $995, these are fully escorted 10-day adventure tours. Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about the Atlantic turtle nesting beaches and Tortuguero Costa Rica on this all inclusive fully escorted tour.

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