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[Updated] Thousands of sea turtles come to shore in massive arribada

October 28, 2019

Update: The National Wildlife Refuse of Ostional has clarified that the latest arribada was “small and atypical” and suggested social media posts showing otherwise are using footage from previous months. 

We regret the error. Our original story is below. 

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Thousands of sea turtles came ashore Thursday and Friday in the latest arribada, a mass nesting that can last several days.

Watch a video of the spectacular event at Ostional beach below:

During a typical arribada, as many as 300,000 sea turtles can arrive at the beach over several days.

Once the female turtles have reached a suitable site, the turtles use their back flippers to excavate the nest, leaving behind roughly 100 leathery eggs, each about the size of a ping-pong ball. After the eggs are in the sand, the turtles cover up the nest. For good measure, the turtles rock back and forth, making loud thumping sounds as they “dance” over the nest to compact the sand and camouflage it.

Local efforts to protect turtles have intensified since an infamous incident in 2015 when tourists eager to watch the turtles’ arrival interfered with their nesting.

Today, the rules are much stricter. If visitors want to stand among the sea turtles, they need to be accompanied by a local guide and travel in small groups.

Costa Rica also launched this week a nationwide campaign against selfies with wild animals. The Association of Local Guides of Ostional applauded the efforts.

“Ostional has been the focus of much controversy by people who come with the intention of taking selfies with the turtles, and worse still with the baby turtles,” they wrote. “This is a completely irresponsible practice. Wild animals MUST NOT be handled in any way.

“We must educate ourselves and become more aware every day.”

Here are more photos from this week’s arribada, via the Association of Local Guides of Ostional:

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