Releasing Baby Sea Turtles Into the Ocean In Costa Rica
There is nothing quite as magical or touching as seeing a new life experience the light of the world for the very first time.
Watching the dozens of freshly-hatched baby sea turtles squirm around in their crates, I was able to see this first-hand before helping release them safely toward the ocean.
Our Incredible Morning Experience:
It was a rainy morning in Quepos, Costa Rica. We took a tiny ferry to another part of the water to meet an organization that ethically houses sea turtle eggs and releases them into the ocean.
When we made it to the deserted beach, we jumped in the back of a pickup truck and rode down the coast for a bit. I’ll never forget the feeling of freedom and adventure as we drove along the sand, hair blowing in the wind, birds soaring overhead.
The owners of the organization told us how to carefully pick up and hold the turtles and that we must have latex gloves on as to not get human bacteria on the turtles.
Our friend Kelen drew the lines in the sand (basically a rectangle with an “open” top) so the turtles would use that as a guide and move toward the ocean.
The turtles were cute and squirmy, like any new baby, as they attempted to understand their surroundings and the world around them with fresh eyes.
They know the ocean is their home and where they belong, even after birth. Their instincts seemed to have them itching to go home!
We carefully picked up the sea turtles with gloves on the outer edges of their shells and set them on the sand.
Some were ready to charge ahead and run toward the ocean, but others weren’t! Some little guys simply sat in place, confused, or even tried running backwards toward the sand lines.
Luckily, their natural instincts kicked in within a minute or so and they all eventually were moving toward the water.
Seeing the turtles make it to the water and fight the waves was a touching moment. We knew they had safely made it to the water and wished them a happy life. When the final turtle was about to reach the water, we all stood in a circle and held hands to say our prayers/well wishes.
Holding back happy, hopeful tears, we made our way back to the truck to make our way back to Quepos.
This was an experience I’ll never forget, and if you happen to be in Costa Rica during sea turtle season, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Want to See the Sea Turtles in Costa Rica? Here’s what you should know before you go!
Sea Turtles hatch during a certain time every year
Turtles tend to hatch during a short period every year, so if your trip is not during those months, you may not be able to partake in this experience.
We went in November, where the general period is September to March on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. In Tortuguero on the Caribbean side they nest from June to October. This website has more helpful information on when can you see the sea turtles.
Also, due to nature doing its thing, you may need to be flexible with the day you release the turtles as it all depends on when they’ve hatched and are ready to go!
Choose an ethical organization to go with
Sadly, only 1% of sea turtles survive to adulthood, partially due to poaching, which is why it is important to take care of the eggs and safely release them toward the ocean.
Remember that these sea turtles are babies and wild creatures. They should be treated ethically, responsibly, and be cared for in the right way!
We were instructed to wear latex gloves and to only pick up the sea turtles gently on the sides of their shells before carefully placing them on the sand toward the water.
You must not touch the turtles with your bare hands as human bacteria could hurt or kill the turtle.
Watch your step!
As the turtles pick up momentum and move toward the ocean, they’ll be outside the sand lines and more near where the waves come in.
Since they’re covered in sand they may be hard to see as they will likely blend into the sand. If you’re in the water watching or taking photos, watch your step so you don’t smush one! (Don’t worry, none of us did.)
Dress for the beach and weather
It was rainy when we went, so a rain jacket was a must. I also recommend wearing flip flops as you’ll be on a sandy beach.
Enjoy your trip to Costa Rica, and as they say, “pura vida!”
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