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Costa Rica: Selfish Selfie Tourists Disrupt Turtle Nesting

Sep 27, 2015 12:05 PM EDT
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Earlier this month Costa Rican beaches within the Ostional Wildlife Refuge in Guanacaste saw picture-perfect conditions, leading to a great host of olive ridley sea turtles to come ashore to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, a great beach day also attracted tourists and locals alike, many of whom wound up disrupting this crucial nesting time.

According to the country's Environment Ministry's Workers Union (SITRAMINAE), up to 1000 sea turtles can be seen crawling out of the Pacific ocean and onto Guanacaste's beaches any one day during this time of year. However, on the weekend of September 5 a stunning 5000 turtles reportedly showed up to bury their eggs in the soft sands.

Unfortunately, ideal weather and news of this massive nesting event drew equally massive crowds, with some locals reportedly posing as guides and even blocking off roads to charge tourists unofficial fees. When tourists did hit the beaches, they easily outnumbered the three national police officers and two park rangers who were trying to control the chaos, according to a Tico Times report. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : SITRAMINAE) Tourists wadded into low-tide, stepping around and even on nesting turtles to snag themselves the ideal selfie.

"Appropriate measures were not taken to control the tourism that hampered the natural process," SITRAMINAE said on its Facebook Page, announcing that an investigation was underway.

Some of the tourists, the Union reports, likely were there with special permissions granted by the parks department. However, the great majority were not, and the massive selfie-seeking crowds wound up scaring many would-be mother turtles away before laying their egg clutches. Locals were also seen harvesting turtle eggs, as they are considered a delicacy.

The good news is that while this disruption is unfortunate, it likely wont severely impact the next generation of local ridleys. Unlike the critically endangered Kemp's ridely sea turtle, the olive ridley (or Pacific ridley) is only classified as a vulnerable species with a healthy-but-declining global population.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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