Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station

The Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station is located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in Las Baulas National Park. The station serves as headquarters for TLT’s research on East Pacific turtle populations.

With space to accommodate up to 24 researchers at a time, Goldring-Gund Station provides an important hub for Costa Rican and international scientists. The Station also hosts students from middle and secondary schools in the United States and Costa Rica in field-based learning programs. Earthwatch volunteers based at the station contribute to TLT’s nesting beach research and monitoring efforts.

Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station researchers provide nesting turtles with identification tags to measure their reproductive output and determine population size. TLT scientists have tracked the reproductive output of leatherback, olive ridley and black turtles nesting at Playa Grande since 1993. We monitor nests to understand how sea turtle eggs develop and what factors lead to the highest output of healthy hatchlings.

A scientist measures a newly emerged leatherback hatchling.

© Kip Evans Photography | Mission Blue

Learning more about where turtles go at different life stages, is essential to conserving endangered species, such as leatherbacks. Identifying seasonal and spatial patterns also enables conservationists to advance protections, such as fisheries closures along migration corridors during particular months of the year.

© Brian Skerry | BrianSkerry.com

We know that climate change presents a looming threat to sea turtles. TLT scientists have noted that higher beach temperatures are resulting in more female hatchlings than males. Applied research enables scientists to experiment with methods to mitigate the effects of climate change. Our researchers and volunteers in Costa Rica are examining how climate change affects sea turtle nesting success and investigating whether cooling nests with shade or water during periods of excessive heat can help balance hatchling sex ratios.

TLT scientists study the "lost years", a 10-15 year period after hatching before turtles return to nest.

© Jason Bradley | BradleyPhotographic.com

TLT researchers also study the physiology and behavior of sea turtles by conducting metabolic, respiratory, hormonal and genetic tests. One of TLT’s founding scientists, Dr. Frank Paladino, discovered that leatherbacks use their large size to stay warm in colder waters and avoid overheating in tropical climates.

© Jason Bradley | BradleyPhotographic.com

TLT believes strong science informs sound management. We provide our research findings to government leaders and national park officials to help inform conservation policy and management decisions. Once informed conservation strategies are implemented, we monitor their progress.