The 2013-2014 nesting season and sea turtle projects of The Leatherback Trust on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica concluded in April. This season was full of turtles, new and old friends, and lots of experiences.
The Leatherback Trust has two sea turtle research projects on the Costa Rican Pacific coast, one in Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas, which are part of Las Baulas National Park; and another one in Playa Cabuyal, on the Papagayo Peninsula, on the northern coast of the province of Guanacaste.
Las Baulas National Marine Park (Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas)
The following is a summary of the statistics for the season in Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas:
We recorded two very unique highlights this year at Las Baulas National Marine Park. One of the 23 leatherback turtles that arrived this season was initially tagged at Playa Grande during 1993-1994 -- the first year of our monitoring program, more than two decades ago!
The other turtle was first tagged at Playa Grande during the 1994-1995 nesting season! She has been encountered during 9 different nesting seasons. This old friend is the most frequently encountered turtle in the project and over the years has been observed nesting over 60 times.
In addition to these turtles, Las Baulas National Park supports many other animals. This season we encountered many other kinds of fauna that are not normally easy to see in the National Park. During their patrols (more nocturnal than diurnal), the biologists encountered different species of mammals, including the Mexican Hairy Dwarf Porcupine (Sphiggurus mexicanus) who was walking around Ventanas beach; the Mexican anteater (Tamandua mexicana), who scared one of our biology assistants in the hatchery; the crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) swimming in front of Playa Grande; and the green iguana (Iguana iguana), nesting inside the hatchery. We filmed many of these experiences were filmed and invite you to see them in this playlist:
Moving up to Cabuyal Beach, at the northern edge of Guanacaste province, The Leatherback Trust has another research project whose statistics for this season are as follows:
At Playa Cabuyal, the biologists tagged a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) for the first time. This has been the only occasion, in the three seasons the project has been running, in which we have seen this species of sea turtle nesting on this beach. Unfortunately the nest was poached.
During 2013-2014 we attached 9 transmitters on selected green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Preliminary results showed that 2 of the turtles migrated to the Gulf of Fonseca, between the borders of Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. Another turtle headed south of Nicaragua and the rest remained close of the Gulf of Papagayo.
Cabuyal Beach is a beach located about 30 kilometers from the city of Liberia, on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. Cabuyal's forest cover, including the mangrove forests adjacent to the beach, and its proximity to Santa Rosa National Park, contribute to the diversity of its flora and fauna. Volunteers and biology assistants have seen many species of mammals; scudding the raccoons, coatis, and humpback whales portrayed within this video:
The Leatherback Trust is grateful for all the support that is given to these projects. For this season, we appreciate the cooperation we received from volunteers, biology assistants, and all the people who got involved and gave us their collaboration. We also thank the institutions who participated and gave us their support; and also those who worked with us at Las Baulas National Park; the brothers Carlos and Vicente “Chente” Guevara Espinoza on Cabuyal Beach; the Tempisque Conservation Area and the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Now we are getting prepared for next season!