Costa Rica Green Turtle Research Station

Although the Green Turtle Research Station is not currently part of our Costa Rica itinerary, Caravan Tours supports their ongoing conservation efforts.

Much of the financial support for the efforts of the John H. Phipps Green Turtle Research Station came from John H. Phipps himself. The research facility was established nearly three decades ago and is named in his honor.

The Caribbean Islands and the countries of Central America are known internationally as much for their efforts in the conservation of their natural resources as they are for their stunning beauty and unique biodiversity.

Two important key players in Central America’s efforts towards the conservation of green sea turtles are:

  1. Green Turtle Research Station (near Tortuguero Costa Rica)
  2. Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly the Caribbean Conservation Corporation) of which American herpetologist, ecologist and a pioneering conservationist Archie Carr was a founding member.

Both owe their existence to the work of Carr and others who endeavored to save the green sea turtle, one of several endangered turtle species that nest near Tortuguero Costa Rica and in other Caribbean countries.

Sea Turtle Conservation at the Green Turtle Research Station

What’s happening in the sea turtle preservation and restoration world today?

The Green Turtle Research Station is ideally located for studying the natural turtle habitat and monitoring turtle migration, behaviour, nesting, and other activities.

At various times throughout the year, different turtle species arrive at the Tortuguero turtle nesting beaches to nest and lay their eggs including the giant leatherbacks, loggerheads, hawksbill turtles, and of course the Atlantic green sea turtles. Nesting turtles generally come ashore at night to lay their eggs and bury them in the volcanic sand, a process that has been repeated for centuries.

One of the greatest benefits of the Green Turtle Research Station is their program for assisting turtle hatchlings to avoid predators. They help the hatchlings make it to the ocean safely, thus ensuring the survival of turtle populations. The presence of researchers and volunteers on the turtle nesting beaches of Tortuguero Costa Rica has also greatly reduced turtle poaching.

Public education is another huge part of their conservation efforts and researchers often invite volunteers to be part of a “welcoming party,” as turtles come to the nesting beaches on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Why Sea Turtle Conservation in Tortuguero?

Why is Costa Rica the choice site for studying and helping green sea turtles and other turtle species?

The nesting beaches near Tortuguero Costa Rica attract more nesting turtles than anywhere else in the western hemisphere. The intensive study and conservation efforts conducted by the Green Turtle Research Station (and others) have had an overwhelming positive effect on turtle populations.

Turtle researchers are able to monitor turtle populations and gather important information from their studies of turtles including turtle identification and survival facts.

The project is officially known as “Green Turtle Tagging” and is part of the Green Turtle Monitoring Program. In addition, interested persons may contact the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida.

The Green Turtle Research Station always welcomes volunteers, many of whom help with the research at night, when the turtles are most active. International volunteers are able to keep in touch with the turtle preservation efforts through the Marine Turtle newsletter.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Each year, the Sea Turtle Conservancy manages a variety of programs that require volunteers. The first takes place in March, April and May at the turtle nesting beaches near Tortuguero Costa Rica.

This effort is called The Leatherback Project and focuses on the study and protection of the giant leatherback turtles, which in some cases can weigh as much as a ton. Volunteers are involved in counting and identification, as well as tagging the leatherback turtles in order to help researchers track and monitor the giant leatherback turtle population.

In July, August, and September, the Sea Turtle Conservancy studies the green sea turtle, concentrating on their nesting behaviour and addressing their environmental needs in order to keep the species healthy and thriving. Green sea turtles are much smaller than leatherbacks and grow to a maximum length of four feet, and weigh no more than 350 pounds.

In the last few decades, more and more travelers have chosen to participate in Costa Rica ecotourism travel, combining volunteer work in Costa Rica with vacation time near the Green Turtle Research Station. The village of Tortuguero has several excellent bed-and-breakfast options, as well as small hotels and guest houses.

Two other noteworthy organizations that actively take part in the effort to restore and preserve the populations of Atlantic sea turtles and other turtle species are the ANAI Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Program and EarthWatch.

Turtle Nesting Beaches Part of Caravan Costa Rica Tours

Caravan offers a fully guide Costa Rica Natural Paradise tour, which currently includes a visit to sea turtle nesting beaches of Playa Tambor on the Pacific Coast. This sea turtle nesting beach is less busy but every bit as fascinating as Tortuguero’s Green Turtle Research Station on the Atlantic Coast.

Affordably priced, our Caravan 8-day Costa Rica tours feature a number of other top attractions and experiences you can’t miss while visiting Costa Rica including volcanoes, cloud forests, hanging bridges, and so much more.

Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica reviews page to read what others have said about their tour of the Costa Rica turtle nesting beaches.

Call toll-free at 1-800-Caravan (227-2826)