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Ocean Health

Costa Rican Sea Turtles

Why have Pacific leatherback sea turtles almost disappeared? Look for answers and solutions on Costa Rica’s beaches.


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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

The team works hard to foster local education and jobs that are in harmony with protecting leatherback sea turtles on Costa Rica’s beaches.

These researchers have studied leatherbacks for over two decades and built the longest-running database that exists on Pacific marine turtles.

Help this dedicated team study the behavior of adult and newly hatched turtles, their migratory routes, and how human activities and pollution impact them. Only by gathering a trove of data on these ancient creatures can we fully understand the dramatic decline of leatherbacks in the Pacific Ocean and the population dynamics of marine turtles in general.

To do something about this dramatic decline requires lots of information. Because leatherbacks have such large ranges, understanding their migration paths and how fisheries and development reshape their behavior is essential to developing international treaties and conservation strategies. These researchers are just beginning to get a picture of turtle movements and behavior, and they need additional data on near-shore nesting—which you’ll help collect—to understand the impact of fisheries on nesting turtles, as well as the effects of commercial fishing on migrating turtles in the open ocean.

Turtle eggs collected for transfer to a hatchery

Eggs from a nest below the high-tide line are transferred to a hatchery.

This project’s massive long-term database on the leatherback turtles that nest on these Costa Rican beaches makes an invaluable contribution to marine science. Researchers need this information to understand the impacts over time of development along the beaches, human intrusion, and global warming—impacts that we are just beginning to see on the reproduction and hatching success of leatherbacks.

About the research area

Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica, Central America & The Caribbean

Daily life in the field

Itinerary

This is a summary:

The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

Frank
Paladino
Professor of Biology, Indiana-Purdue University

ABOUT Frank Paladino

Dr. Frank Paladino is a marine turtle expert with a passion for saving leatherbacks from extinction.

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Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food

Reviews

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