How to help save sea turtles

There are seven species of marine, or sea, turtles, and almost all of them are endangered. These ancient sea creatures voyage between land and sea and swim thousands of miles throughout their lives, leaving them vulnerable to a number of threats. In fact, the leatherback sea turtle population in the Pacific has dropped by more than 90 percent since 1980, while the hawksbill global population, with little more than 8,000 nesting females remaining, has fallen 80 percent in 100 years. The bottom-line? Each turtle matters!

From commercial fishing - in which hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidently caught in shrimp nets and on long line hooks each year - to habitat loss to illegal trade, marine turtles could use our help. Costa Rica's beaches are home to the nesting sites of four turtle species: leatherback, hawksbill, green and olive ridley. To protect this critical nesting habitat, there are several ways to help out, both in-person and from home.

Life of Marine Turtles - Infographic

How can we help marine turtles

Support sea turtle ecotourism! Costa Rica is famous for its enormous draw of these marine reptiles. During the arribada, or "arrival," anywhere from 600,000 to 750,000 olive ridley turtles flock to Playa Ostional and Playa Nancite each year. Green and leatherback turtles make their way to spawning sites at the Caribbean side at Tortuguero and Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Book a sustainable tour to see the turtles, especially if it benefits the local communities.

If you're interested in checking them out, the best months to catch a glimpse of the nesting seasons are February through July for leatherbacks, June through November for green turtles, September until December for olive ridleys while April through November serves as peak season for hawksbill turtles.

Close up at Green Turtle in Ballena National Park
Close up at Green Turtle in Ballena National Park

When you're eating out on vacation or purchasing seafood at home, make sure to buy seafood that's certified as sustainable. These methods of catching and farming fish can help increase the long-term vitality of marine species. Help protect the sea turtle in Costa Rica! On programs such as Sea Turtle Conservancy, Osa Conservation and theGlobal Volunteer Network to name a few, you can volunteer to help these critters make it to their home in the sea. You'll be part of a team that protects against illegal extraction and predators, performs night surveys and aids in local conservation projects. Many of these once-in-a-lifetime experience lasts for one to 12 weeks, so join the conservation effort through one of these hands-on these programs!