Olive Ridley Turtle Nesting
Olive Ridley Turtle Nesting

Want to help release olive ridley sea turtles on the shores of Costa Rica? There's no better time than now! Personally, I've always been fond of turtles since I can always beat them in a race.

The Olive Ridley sea turtles are named for the coloring of their heart-shaped shell, which turns olive green once they become adults. Despite their abundance relative to other sea turtles worldwide, their population has dropped 50 percent since the 1960s. They face risks from human poachers, and thousands have been caught and drowned in shrimp trawl nets every year. The International World Conservation Union has even put them on the endangered species list.

Costa Rica is one of the biggest nesting grounds for the Olive Ridley. Though they prefer to be solitary in the open ocean, the turtles migrate hundreds of miles each year to form a group for the "arribada", which literally means "arrival" and occurs when females nest their eggs on shore in awe-inspiring numbers. Playa Ostional and Playa Nancinte host around 600,000 to 750,000 turtles every year. That's more than a half million reptiles! The nesting season lasts from June to December, as females can lay around 100 eggs and may nest up to three times per year son don't miss any turtle nesting tour!. The arribadas only happen in a few places across the planet, so helping out is an amazing opportunity.

Olive Ridley turtle in Tortuguero National Park
Olive Ridley turtle in Tortuguero National Park

Help Protect the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

On programs such as Working Abroad, Osa Conservation and Global Volunteer Network , you can head to Costa Rica to help these little critters make it to their home in the ocean. Volunteer with the Working Abroad team for one to 12 weeks for a variety of fulfilling projects from July to December, such as performing night surveys to protect the Olive Ridley from predators and illegal extraction, monitoring eggs and baby turtles, helping with local conservation education projects, and of course, releasing the baby turtles into the ocean. The work will be located on Drake Beach, a 3.6 kilometer spot between the mouth of the Drake River and Punta Ganadito.

Volunteers with the sea turtle conservation program through Osa Conservation will be stationed in Piro or Pejeperro Beach, and will be given the rewarding responsibility of gathering reproductive and population data on the turtles, and deterring poachers from collecting eggs for sale or consumption. Stay in comfortable cabins with all the meals provided for you. People come from all over the world to help out, so it'll be a true cultural experience. Best of all, you'll play a part in guaranteeing the survival and long-term health of the Olive Ridley sea turtle!

With the Global Volunteer Network, you'll gain hands-on knowledge of how to preserve the sea turtle species while learning about Costa Rica's biodiversity. Volunteers provide support to biologists, monitor the hatcheries, lead beach patrols, dig nests and on top of all of that, help with reforestation. Three meals a day are provided in a local home stay, and there's no better way to immerse yourself into the "Pura Vida" lifestyle than living with a Tico family.

Some Fun Facts about the Turtle

An Olive Ridley's shell bears six to eight scutes, or plates, on the center row, and in Spanish they are called tortuga lora. Weighing up to 45 kilograms and around 65 centimeters, these guys are among the smallest of sea turtles.

The Tortuga Lora inhabits oceans across the world, but it is the most abundant in Costa Rica, where it only nests on the Pacific side.

Hatchlings first break their shell after incubating for up to 60 days. They weigh less than an ounce and are only 1.5 inches long - that's the only time my frog friends and I are bigger than them!

Take action on one of these amazing sea turtle conservation programs! On this trip, nature lovers will be in heaven. Don't be a tortuga, help out today!

Have you been a part of the olive ridley conservation? What did you think of the experience?

Marine Turtle eggs on the beach at Tortuguero
Marine Turtle eggs on the beach at Tortuguero