Hands-On Conservation – Working with Leatherbacks in Costa Rica

Leatherback sea turtles are the largest species of turtle to swim the world’s oceans. A leatherback can measure four to six feet in length and can weigh in at more than 1000 pounds. The biggest, deepest-diving, widest ranging of all turtles, the leatherback has endured for 100 million years.

leatherback sea turtle Costa Rica
Nesting leatherback sea turtle on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

Reefs to Rockies co-founder Sheridan Samano has been guiding student groups to Estacion las Tortugas, a leatherback sea turtle project on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast since 2006.

Every trip brings new experiences. The 2015 nesting season saw heavy downpours, flooded nesting sites, and much more debris along the 3 km stretch of beach patrolled by staff and volunteers at the station. In addition to spending multiple nights working with nesting female leatherbacks, we also had the unforgettable opportunity to release hatchlings during our stay.

leatherback sea turtle Costa Rica
Leatherback hatchling returning to the sea – Estacion las Tortugas, Costa Rica.

Conservation efforts at Estacion las Tortugas have resulted in a 90% reduction of poaching and a hatchling success rate of 50% in the area – truly a conservation success story.

Have you ever wanted to work hands-on at a sea turtle conservation project? Contact us to learn more about a variety of volunteer projects in Costa Rica.

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