Costa Rica – A significant group of tourists in Costa Rica interrupted the annual breeding and nesting process of sea turtles on a local beach during the weekend, causing wildlife authorities to proceed into an investigation related to environmental violations.

The hundreds of thousands of olive ridley sea turtles, who were crawling out to shore to lay their eggs, were scared off by thousands of tourists along Optional Beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. They were taking selfies and mounting their children on the turtles’ backs, causing the ancient reptiles to simply turned around and retreat into the sea.

Critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles that still arrive in Costa Rica during nesting season may stop coming here altogether due to climate change. In the 21st century, hawksbills have barely arrived on the beaches of the Pacific coast. Credit: Repeating Islands

The olive ridley nesting season, which goes from August through October, coincides with Costa Rica’s rainy season, which commonly provides a natural barrier that protects the turtles. During that time, the beach is all covered by the flood tide of the swollen Nosara River, which blocks access on bridges, making access to the beach almost impossible. However, this year, low rainfall caused by El Niño, left the river almost dried-up, making passage to the beach easy.

Despite the event, the turtles still made their way through and to lay some eggs, maybe at night. Mr. Méndez, deputy director of the Tempisque Conservation Area, and his team found more eggs than expected after tourists left the site.

Tourists Thwart Turtles from Nesting in Costa Rica Credits: Elisabeth Malkin and Paulina Villegas SEPT. 18, 2015

“A tornado can be happening, and they will continue to deposit the eggs, carve it out, nest, and go back to sea,” he said.

Olive ridley turtles are mostly found inhabiting in warm, tropical waters like the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from India to New Zealand. The sea creatures have also been observed in the waters off the western coast of Africa and the eastern coast of South America, specially in Northern Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela.

Moreover, the Costa Rican government is planning to double security and restrict access to nesting beaches.

Source: Tech Times