Costa Rica’s magnificent Pacific coast, at Playa Ostional, Guanacaste.

turtle-baby

turtle-baby

The tiny town of Ostional is relatively quiet besides the few motorists riding by. It is easy to find the way to the beach, as it runs parallel to the one main road through town, once on the beach the guards stationed every few hundred meters. are watching for poachers, who often illegally stalk these beaches

Since 1959, thousands of olive ridley sea turtles  have been arriving monthly on the shores of Playa Ostional for these mass nestings, or arribadas, which usually last about four days. With each new moon, thousands of turtles emerge from the Pacific Ocean to make their way up the seven-kilometer strip of beach, laying an estimated 100 eggs per night.

After laying her eggs, the turtle attempts to conceal her nest. Then, once it seems fitting, she wills her body back to the sea, leaving her eggs to rest on the beach protected by only a layer of sand. During the days that follow, the thousands more turtles coming to dig their nests may disturb her eggs. Dogs and vultures will come hunting for her eggs. For three hours after sunrise, for the first three days after the arribada starts, local residents of Ostional who are part of the Ostional Integral Development Association project will dig them up for human consumption.

The harvesting and consumption of turtle eggs is something embedded within Costa Rican culture. Since 1930, when sea turtles began to arrive in ones and twos upon the shores of Ostional, people within the community have been eating these eggs. Contrary to common folklore, the consumption of turtle eggs in not an aphrodisiac, but a rich protein source consumed by many Ticos of all ages.

Sea turtles have given Ostional, with its humble population of fewer than 700 people, an international reputation. In addition, Ostional is widely known for its project run by ADIO, which allows for regulated amounts of these eggs to be legally extracted from their nests on the beach for human consumption.

Adapted from the Tico Times

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