On Thursday we had a volunteership with KEUMAR, which is one of Costa Rica’s turtle conservation and investigation organizations. We went to Playa Real also known as “Bahia de los Piratas” where we learned how they observe/ study the turtles. Each turtle (black and green sea turtle) that comes to the beach for nesting, first gets measured (length and width) and then they get a tag on their front flipper so they can keep control of how many turtles visit the beach. The leatherback turtles after getting measured, get a chip inserted into their neck so they can be follow and tracked since they are going extinct. Once the turtles come to the beach for nesting, they write down where the nest is by measuring it from the closest tree or landmark and they also write down how many eggs are layed. The nesting process can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on each turtle.
Once the nesting process is done the volunteers move the eggs to a different location in order to keep them safe from their main predator, the humans, yes people come to the beaches and take the eggs and sell them illegally.
Once they move the eggs, they go back after 45 days and check how many eggs have hatched, the ones that did not hatch are checked to see why they did not hatch.
During our time there, we went to one of the nests and had to dig to find out how many turtles hatched, check for baby turtles and check how many eggs did not hatch.
We found one baby turtle, which was very very exciting!! We also found 65 hatched shells and about 8 unhatched eggs. The conclusion we came to for the unhatched eggs was that they were not in the hole deep enough and the weren’t able to develop, they cooked from the heat.
Heat plays a big role in the process, if it is too hot it can cook the eggs. The temperature also decides whether the turtle will be male or female.
Kuemar volunteers patrols their beaches every night from 7:30pm to 4:00am, observing turtles that come and lay eggs. They receive up to 4000 turtles per year between, 4 beaches, Playa Nombre de Jesús, Playa Zapotillal, Playa Real y Playa Honda. Each turtle lays between 80 and 100 eggs. And in every 1000 eggs laid 1 survives and makes it into adulthood.
After that we headed to Playa Penca where we spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the water and the surf.