Posts

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!

Caravan Costa Rica vacations are the perfect holidays offering something for everyone. With a name that literally means “Rich Coast,” how can you miss?

Costa Rica is a small Central American country but although small in size (just under 20,000 square miles), Costa Rica is overflowing with natural wonders and exotic tropical beauty.

No matter who you are or where you are from, Caravan’s well-planned Costa Rica vacations will astound you. Stops include the country’s two most famous volcanoes, Arenal volcano and Poás volcano plus some of the most popular attractions in the country:

  • Hiking or walking through tropical virgin rainforests and cloud forests
  • Relaxing on white sandy beaches at world class resorts
  • Exploring wildlife refuges, nature reserves, and protected turtle nesting beaches
  • Taking in jungle river cruises and bird watching cruises
  • Or taste-testing fresh coffee at a local coffee plantation

Top 4 Costa Rica Destinations

While on our Caravan Costa Rica vacations, travelers get to enjoy the most popular, must-see destinations including:

  1. Leatherback Turtles National Park: This protected marine and wildlife refuge is one of the more popular National Parks in Costa Rica and a top eco-tourism destination. Plan to travel here between September and March to catch a glimpse of the prime nesting season for leatherback turtles. This national park also has an overabundance of mammals and birds (over 174 species!), plus truly unique flora and fauna just waiting to be explored.
  2. Poás Volcano: This popular Costa Rica volcano is located near the center of country. Poás Volcano is often misty and cloudy but when the mist breaks, visitors are given a unique glimpse of the green sulphuric lake that shoots geysers up over 800 feet in the air. At a mile wide and over 1,000 feet deep, Poás volcano is the world’s largest active crater.
  3. Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge: The only way to get to Cano Negro, one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations, is on a boat cruise along the Rio Frio River. Experienced Costa Rica tour guides help visitors stay on the lookout for migratory birds, crocodiles, web-footed water walking lizards, spider monkeys, jaguars, cougars, and more.
  4. Arenal Volcano: Located about 55 kilometers northwest of Costa Rica’s capital San José, Arenal Volcano remained dormant for several hundred years until it erupted suddenly in 1968 creating three more craters. Only one crater still exists today and tourists enjoy visiting one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world (from a safe distance of course).

All Inclusive Vacations by Caravan

Because Costa Rica is small it is possible to travel from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast and see all the major attractions in between while on Caravan’s 9-day Costa Rican vacation. Caravan’s Costa Rica tour guests are pleasantly surprised by not only the tropical diversity of Costa Rica but also how affordable it is to travel Costa Rica all inclusive on Caravan’s fully guided tours!

Caravan Costa Rica vacations well planned with tour itineraries that make them ideal all inclusive, fully guided trips for every type of traveler including singles, couples, families and seniors.

Caravan Tours Are Fully Guided

There is a good reason why Caravan Tours has named Costa Rica the “Natural Paradise”.

Caravan Tours offers Costa Rica vacation packages that include most of the destinations and activities mentioned in this article. Visit Caravan’s Costa Rica tour reviews page to read about the personal travel experiences of previous tour guests on Caravan’s fully guided, all inclusive tour of Costa Rica.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!

(Editor’s Note – This original post from February 2010 has been updated to reflect current Costa Rica vacation details.)

Loosely translated, the name Tortuguero means, “turtle region“.

Located in Limon Province just north of Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is the small village of Tortuguero Costa Rica.

Tortuguero Village relies mainly on tourism and since it is isolated on a strip of land within the Tortuguero canals the village can only be accessed by air or water. There are no cars so the atmosphere is very relaxed and quite pleasing.

Tortuguero Village is surrounded by a series of natural and man-made waterways; in fact, the Tortuguero canals are the primary means of local transportation.

Tortuguero Conservation Area

The Tortuguero Conservation Area covers a great part of northeastern Costa Rica (on the Caribbean side) and was created to help preserve this part of the country’s natural resources, reserves, parks, and wildlife refuges.

Within the Tortuguero Conservation Area are three wildlife refuges including Cariari National Wetlands, which is a protected nature reserve, and of course Tortuguero National Park.

Tortuguero National Park

Not unlike Tortuguero Village, Tortuguero National Park is also isolated and only accessible by boat or plane. Yet, Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Rica’s biggest tourist draws.

Tortuguero Park has eleven different natural habitats with exceptional biodiversity in terms of wildlife, flora and fauna, but it is also home to the world famous Tortuguero turtle nesting beaches.

Tortuguero Turtle Nesting Beaches

Costa Rica established the Green Turtle Research Station to study the nesting habits, migration, and behaviour of Atlantic green sea turtles and other turtle species. Some of the more fascinating and endangered turtle species that visit the turtle nesting beaches of Tortuguero Costa Rica each year include:

  • Atlantic green sea turtles
  • Loggerhead turtles
  • Hawksbill turtles
  • Giant leatherback turtles

Believe it or not, many of the giant leatherback turtles that come to the Tortuguero nesting beaches to lay their eggs can reach up to 2000+ pounds!

Tortuguero National Park is also home to over 2,200 plant species, over 375 bird species, and a great variety of Costa Rican wildlife. The dense tropical forests and fresh waterways of the Caribbean coastline are home to many unique mammal species including manatees, jaguars, howler monkeys, caimans, and Costa Rica’s famous three-toed sloths.

Visiting Tortuguero Costa Rica

Costa Rica is world-famous for its amazing biodiversity, glorious landscapes and eco-conscious, sustainable tourism. Costa Rica’s wildlife refuges, biological reserves and national parks like Tortuguero, were established to preserve the country’s natural resources, not only for Costa Ricans but also for international tourists. Tourism in Costa Rica is vitally important to the economy.

Tortuguero Costa Rica tours are always very popular. When you vacation in Tortuguero be sure to hike along the amazing beach trail. To experience the wonders of Tortuguero National Park at its best, however, we recommend one of the many guided Tortuguero boat tours.

The best time to witness nesting turtles in Tortuguero Costa Rica is between April and October, during turtle nesting season. Keep in mind however, that turtles generally like to lay their eggs and nest under the cover of darkness. Guided walks may be available after dark but individuals are not allowed on the beaches at night without an official guide.

All Inclusive Costa Rica Tours by Caravan

Caravan Tours is an all inclusive tour operator offering Costa Rica vacation packages like the Costa Rica Paradise Tour. Please refer to the Costa Rica itinerary for each for the most up to date tour details.

Caravan’s fully escorted 9-day Costa Rica tours are affordably priced and ideal for singles, couples, groups, and families. Check out the Costa Rica Tour reviews page to read what others have said about Costa Rica tour or visit our FAQ page for more general travel information.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) today to reserve space one of our amazing Costa Rica tours!