June 16 marks the International Day of Sea Turtles, an endangered species that has been present on our planet for more than 200 million years.

Origin of the Date

Archie Carr, a conservationist from Alabama, United States, fought all his life for the sea turtles conservation. His birthday was chosen to celebrate these chelonians on International Sea Turtle Day.

An Endangered Species

The IUCN has listed 7 species of sea turtles in the world as endangered. Five of these species are found in Costa Rica. The celebration of International Sea Turtle Day raises awareness about the need to protect these animals. The main dangers that turtles face are: ocean pollution, plastic waste and garbage; temperature changes in the seas and oceans, the use of nets for sustainable fishing in which they are trapped, and the indiscriminate poaching of sea turtles to sell their meat, shells and eggs in the illegal market.

Sea Turtles

Turtle Species in Costa Rica

  • Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are known for their massive nesting (“arribadas”) that occur mostly in the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and Playa Nancite, on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, as well as in the southern Osa Peninsula. In Ostional, some 100,000 females may come to the beach to lay eggs and it is an impressive event.
  • Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are listed by the IUCN as endangered, and nest mainly in Tortuguero National Park, on the Caribbean side.
  • Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are giant turtles, weighing up to 2,000 pounds and measuring up to 2 meters in length. They are highly migratory and are listed as endangered. Their main nesting beaches in Costa Rica are along the Caribbean and northern Pacific coasts.
  • The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is the most difficult to sight and nests alone. Its main nesting sites in Costa Rica are Cahuita National Park and the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Refuge, on the southern Caribbean coast.

In Summary

  • The date corresponds to the date of birth of conservationist Archie Carr
  • Sea turtles on the verge of extinction
  • In Costa Rica there are 5 species of sea turtles

Author: M. Barrantes for Sensorial Sunsets