Taking It Slow: In Search of Turtles in Costa Rica
Turtles are known for taking it slow and basking in the sun in Costa Rica. They love swimming in the coastal waters and are sometimes found on the beach, especially during nesting season. If you’re looking for turtles in Costa Rica, you’ll find three different types at Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica. Tortuguero is home to the Green Sea Turtle, Giant Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles. It’s fascinating to watch the hatchlings crawl from their nests down to the water. It typically happens at night, when the sand is cooler.
Green Sea Turtles
The Green Sea Turtle is one of the oldest species on Earth, existing before even the dinosaurs. They have green skin and brown, black, yellow, gray, green or olive shells. They are an endangered species, also referred to as the Eastern Pacific Green Turtle, and are sometimes simply called green turtles. They are one of the few species that leave the sea and come onto land to sun themselves when they’re not nesting. They are the largest of the sea turtles. Adults commonly weigh in above 300 pounds and can be as much as five feet long. The females nest on the beaches from July to October.
Leatherback turtles often grow more than three feet long, weighing in at close to a ton. Their large front flippers can grow to be more than eight feet long, giving them a distinct advantage in the water. Leatherbacks are dark gray or black with white speckles and a much lighter underside. The females come ashore between February and June to dig nests and lay their eggs. When the turtles hatch, they all move down the beach, paddling through the surf and into the water. Most males will never return to land. The Giant Leatherback is the largest known living turtle species. It’s a deep diver that spends more than 99 percent of its day swimming. It doesn’t have a bony shell like most other types of turtles. There are ridges on Leatherbacks, but they have no claws in their flippers and no teeth in their mouths. They use spines in the throat and horny points on the upper lip to eat. They are an endangered one of several endangered species protected in Costa Rica
The Hawksbill Turtle typical grows up to just under three feet long. They weigh in at a maximum of 200 pounds. Hawskbills are named for their hawk-like beaks for mouths. They are among the most endangered turtle species, often hunted for their colorful shells. They eat mostly sea sponges, using their sharp beaks to catch them. Hawksbill Turtles are harder to spot around the beaches of Tortuguero, because they like to nest in seclusion about every two weeks beginning in July. They usually build a maximum of four nests per season, laying 150 to 200 eggs per nest.
If you love turtles, and sea turtles in particular, be sure to tell our staff when you’re booking your vacation with Costa Rica Rios. We’ll help you find the best turtle-watching spots to see these fascinating creatures. Contact Costa Rica Rios today to make plans and reservations.