Marine Turtles in Costa Rica

The richly bio-diverse Caribbean coast of Costa Rica provides a vital nesting habitat to various kinds of marine turtles including the hawksbill, leatherback and the green turtles. Five out of seven of the world\'s marine turtle species nest on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Approximately forty eight spectacular beaches on the Pacific coast provide critical nesting habitat to the Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green turtle and the Olive Ridley species.

Largest of the marine turtles in the world, the Leatherback has the capacity of reaching nine feet and weighing up to 1,900 lbs. The sizes can sometimes vary, as those found on the Pacific coast are smaller than those found on the Caribbean coast. Colored black or dark gray with white spots, leatherbacks do not have a hard shell like the other turtles. Between October and February these turtles nest between Guanacaste and the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific coast. Although these turtles are not killed for their meat, but their eggs are considered desirable.

Hawksbill turtles are a relatively small species that reaches up to two and a half feet in length. Beaches with rocky protrusions are preferable nesting grounds for these turtles and they can be rarely observed swimming near coral reefs on the Pacific coast.

Reaching up to a length of four and a half feet and weighing around 750 lbs, the Green turtles are also locally known as "Tortuga Negra, Prieta or Tora". These turtles are hunted for their eggs and meat but due to extreme measures of protection taken, the population decline of this species has stabilized.

Classified as endangered, the Loggerhead turtles have been reported nesting on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The meat and eggs of these turtles are highly prized in the Caribbean.

The Olive Ridley is the smallest of marine turtle species. Varying between two to two and a half feet and weighing around 75 to 85 lbs, these turtles are black or dark olive green in color. More abundant off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, these turtles nest along the entire length of the country on various beaches. A major portion of their time is spent on the surface, rather than in the deeper waters after nesting.

With a remarkable commitment to conservation efforts, the authorities and public in Costa Rica are working together for safeguarding the marine turtles and protecting their nesting sites.

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