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 over two 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 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 Leatherback Turtles National Park in Guanacaste on the Pacific Coast, which is less busy and every bit as fascinating as Tortuguero’s Green Turtle Research Station on the Atlantic Coast.

Affordably priced, these 9-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 aerial tram tours.

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

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today
for a Caravan all inclusive Costa Rica tour!

There are several prominent organizations that focus their efforts on the protection and preservation of the sea turtle nesting beaches in Costa Rica including:

  1. Leatherback Turtle National Park (on the Pacific Coast)
  2. Tortuguero National Park (on the Atlantic Coast)

Turtle Population in Costa Rica

Historically, turtle research only revealed that actual turtle population numbers are very hard to pin down. However, in recent decades many 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 Costa Rica sea turtle nesting beaches.

Humans have caused much of the reduction in world turtle populations. Humans have directly affected turtle habitats and nesting beaches with high-impact fishing, pleasure boating, and by developing encroaching oceanfront properties.

Changes in tourism over the last few years have increasingly helped to improve the world’s sea turtle populations. Tour organizers for today’s sea turtle nesting beaches are now attempting to combine tourism and eco-travel vacations with volunteer activity. This has helped to positively affect and protect endangered turtles and their nesting grounds, while educating curious vacationers.

Pacific Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Costa Rica is home to sea turtle nesting beaches for many species including:

  • Giant leatherbacks
  • Loggerheads turtles
  • Olive Ridley turtles
  • Hawksbill turtles
  • Green sea turtles

The sea turtles return to these nesting beaches annually all along both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines but each species has its own season, depending on where the nesting grounds are located.

Leatherback National Park

Leatherback Turtle National Park is located on the Pacific coast north of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The best time to plan a visit to these sea turtle nesting beaches for the giant leatherback turtles is between the months of October and March.

Leatherback Turtle National Park was created to protect, study, and improve the population of hundreds of giant leatherback turtles that nest here annually. Giant leatherbacks are the world’s largest turtles and can grow in excess of 6-feet long, and weigh up to 2000 lbs. or more!

Atlantic Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Tortuguero Costa Rica is one of the prime areas for ongoing research as well as Atlantic sea turtle preservation and eco tourism.

Costa Rica has developed some excellent programs for turtle conservation including the Green Turtle Research Station in Tortuguero National Park.

Tortuguero’s Atlantic sea turtle nesting season may vary depending on the turtle species that is nesting at different times of the year. Each species nests here for about three months or more.

  • Leatherback Turtles (March – May)
  • Hawksbill Turtles (March – October)
  • Atlantic Sea Turtles (July – September)
  • Loggerhead Turtles (July – September)
  • Green Sea Turtles (July – October)

The John H. Phipps Green Turtle Research Station in Tortuguero Costa Rica, along with the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (and other such organizations), focuses their efforts on different turtle species, depending on the nesting season.

Research teams for the Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches 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 beachfront residences. In one study, teams were able to help turtles hatch nearly 3,000 eggs, with a minimum of disorientation or predator interference.

Costa Rica Ecotourism Raises Turtle Awareness

To increase awareness and appreciation for Costa Rica’s Pacific and Atlantic sea turtle nesting beaches (and their inhabitants), research projects usually coincide with several tourism activities, such as the Green Market, various 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.

Visit this blog page to explore more Costa Rica Beaches.

Endangered Hawksbill Turtles

In addition to the Leatherbacks and Green Sea Turtles, the Hawksbill turtle is of particular interest to science and eco-tourists. Hawksbill turtles were placed on the endangered list nearly 40 years ago.

The Hawksbill turtle species is a medium-size sea turtle that generally nests between late March and October each year. The Hawksbill turtle 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 Tours Includes Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches

The leatherback turtle nesting beach in Guanacaste Costa Rica is one of this country’s biggest tourist draws. The nesting beaches and Caravan’s accompanying naturalist tour guides, offer Caravan travelers the opportunity to learn about and help protect endangered turtle species while enjoying nature.

Currently Caravan Tours includes a visit to the Leatherback Turtle National Park along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast in Guanacaste.

Check out the affordably priced, 9-day Natural Paradise tour for up to date travel itineraries, tour dates, hotel accommodations, FAQ’s, and more. You can also read fellow traveler’s reviews for this tour.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today for an all inclusive Costa Rica tour that includes a visit to turtle nesting beaches in Leatherback Turtle National Park!