I Like Turtles

I Like Turtles

Costa Rica is known for its wildlife and incredible nature. 

Of course my plans there involved mainly relaxing by the beach and practicing yoga, but when the opportunity to release baby sea turtles came up, I wasn’t about to miss that.

I know I gave you all the eco stats earlier, but the Osa Peninsula alone is known as the most biologically intense place on earth with 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. That’s insane considering the size of it!

Now, it wasn’t guaranteed that we would be seeing baby turtles, but we were told that if any hatched during our stay at Blue Osa that they’d let us know.

Each day we all waited anxiously to hear if any turtles had hatched that morning.

And then we got the call.

While it was cool to see all sorts of critters like howler monkeys and scarlet macaws, I was ecstatic when I found out we’d be releasing little turtles. Because, you know, turtles.

I like turtles.

What made it even more special was that these little buddies shared the same birthday as me!

So after driving for almost an hour through mountains and through rivers (for real, we legit Oregon Trailed it!), we arrived at the Osa Conservation Center, where we then had to hike through the jungle for another 20 minutes.

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014  Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Sweaty and tired, we finally made it to the beach– where, guess what?? We had to do more trekking!

Have you ever tried to hike across a beach wearing those hiking shoes with holes all over the place? Yeah, don’t do it. I felt like I was continually sinking in the sand and having to put forth twice the effort needed.

All that effort paid off though when our guide and turtle expert Manuel led us inside the hatchery, where we met several little girls waiting to meeting us.

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Manuel and his team of volunteers comb the beach every day collecting any eggs they encounter. They then relocate the eggs to their safe patch of beach and wait for them to hatch.

The hatchery is actually divided out into grids, which correlate to the beach. This is important so that each turtle is released from the exact point where their egg was originally found.

In every batch, half of the eggs are left in the sun and the other half are left in the shade– this temperature difference apparently determines the sex of the turtle! (Being in the sun produces females, while being in the shade produces males. Who knew??)

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014  Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

As dusk was quickly approaching, we began carefully taking the little cuties out of their nest and placing them into a giant bucket.

Once we had collected everyone it was go time.

We grabbed the bin and trudged once more back across the beach to where these particular turtles had been laid.

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Then, one by one, we began releasing our little babies, watching them squirm their way towards the water.

We eagerly cheered them on, wishing them safety. You see, only 1% of sea turtles actually survive long enough to reproduce. So sadly, their odds are against them, but I have a good feeling about these little ladies.

We watched like proud parents until the final wave whisked them out to sea. Waving goodbye, we can only hope that some of these turtles will one day make it back to this very spot to lay their own eggs.

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Osa Peninsula - Aug 2014

Not a bad way to spend your 25th birthday, am I right? 

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Osa Conversation is a locally owned non-profit organization that works to protect the precious biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula. As such they rely on donations and volunteers. If you are interested in aiding their efforts, please check out their website for more information. The work they do is invaluable, and it is such an incredible experience to be a part of it. Releasing sea turtles was one of the highlights of our trip to Costa Rica!

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Have you released sea turtles before? Would you like to?

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76 Comments

  1. March 10, 2015 / 10:03 am

    I never have but, I would love to. I was in Costa Rica two years ago and I’m aching to go back.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:24 pm

      I can imagine! Costa Rica is a great place.

  2. March 9, 2015 / 1:56 am

    Lovely! What a great way to spend you day. Oh and yes I did hike on a beach with holes in it … not a fun thing indeed ;-)

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:38 pm

      It was! It was super rewarding.

  3. March 8, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    Those turtles are so tiny. That looks like such a fun place to go and visit.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:41 pm

      They were! I was so scared I’d drop one!

  4. March 8, 2015 / 10:59 am

    This is the cuteeest thing ever! I had little turtle when I was a child, loved it so much!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:55 pm

      Aw, I’d love a pet turtle!

  5. March 8, 2015 / 9:07 am

    Pretty much my whole reaction this post is

    fjwithewiogwiojfioahguiwuroiAHGJIWAthperohjrothgdioshfapisghrtiojgdoflgj]f#qHITOFENHGIRHfhggw

    OMG! Like all of the cuteness and squee’s and best birthdays ever!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      It really was!! I was squeeing so hard that day! Cutest. Thing. Ever!

  6. March 8, 2015 / 8:51 am

    That is so freaking cool! My oldest son just released his turtle that he nursed back to health after finding him in the road. He loves animals and would’ve love to do something like this!

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Aw, that’s so good of him!

  7. March 8, 2015 / 5:25 am

    What an amazing experience. I didnt know there was programs like this the public can join in. That was a great way to spend your birthday.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:54 pm

      I don’t think a lot of people realize this. Hopefully they will soon, it’s a great experience.

  8. March 8, 2015 / 4:07 am

    What a beautiful beach! Those baby turtles are the cutest.. I wish I could also visit a turtle hatchery.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      Maybe you can some day!

  9. Rebecca Swenor
    March 8, 2015 / 3:09 am

    Happy Birthday!!!!This sounds like an amazing place and activity to do on your 25th birthday. I would love to go and do this some day. They are so tiny and so cute indeed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      It was such a fun birthday experience :)

  10. March 7, 2015 / 8:42 pm

    Awe, the baby turtles are so tiny, and it’s so sad that they have such great odds against them. What an unforgettable experience to have!

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:52 pm

      I know, it is really sad. But it was unforgettable!

  11. March 7, 2015 / 11:00 am

    That is so amazing to have the chance to hold that sort of life, wow. I would go on a vacation JUST to do something that important.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      I hope you get the chance to someday. It’s so rewarding.

  12. Bonnie @ wemake7
    March 7, 2015 / 6:04 am

    Awww baby turtles are so cute. That must have been an amazing experience. Love the pictures.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:21 pm

      They were so cute :)

  13. eliz frank
    March 7, 2015 / 1:57 am

    What a memorable event to participate in. I didn’t realize how tiny those babies were until I saw a picture of you holding one. Bless their hearts!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:23 pm

      So adorable, right?

  14. March 6, 2015 / 11:50 pm

    I would say that is a fabulous way to spend any birthday! What a wonderful program, so lucky for you to be able to take part and to live in a such an amazing place.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:24 pm

      It was definitely a fun birthday for sure!

  15. March 6, 2015 / 10:34 pm

    Woah! That’s so cool (about the eggs and how sex is determined) and it’s a great way of doing things. The smartest way to ensure that the population continues is to make sure there are enough males and females.
    Very neat…. you learn something new every day.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:26 pm

      Exactly! I had no idea!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:26 pm

      Aw, I’d bet your son would have so much fun with the little turtles!

  16. March 6, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    Such an awesome experience! I went on a turtle island near Borneo, Malaysia a few years ago and it was incredible. We got to dig out the fresh layed turtle eggs, place them in the hatchery and also release baby turtles back onto the beach and into the ocean.

    Would do it again any time!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:30 pm

      That sounds so awesome! I’ve always wanted to go to Borneo.

  17. March 6, 2015 / 11:09 am

    That had to have been the coolest thing ever! They are so cute and little!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:22 pm

      It really was! We felt like such proud parents! :)

  18. March 6, 2015 / 7:13 am

    that sounds like a super cool way to spend birthday!!! and those turtles are just the cutest!!!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      It was!! They were just too cute!

  19. March 6, 2015 / 4:08 am

    So cute. I think programmes like this are so important, not only to help protect the turtles but also from an educational perspective.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      I agree! It’s important to educate people on conservation and nature!

  20. March 6, 2015 / 1:12 am

    I like turtles too!! Volunteered in Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula too but we spent our time with dolphins – would love to spend some time on conservation projects aimed at helping turtles!! Great photos Beth!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      Hey, spending time with dolphins sounds pretty amazing too!

  21. March 6, 2015 / 12:22 am

    Aww, very beautiful little turtles :’) I’m very happy for them. I’d love to visit there soon to see and touch little turtle. I love all of your photo very cute.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      I hope they thrive in the ocean! :)

  22. March 6, 2015 / 12:03 am

    This sounds amazing–looks like a great time! I love turtles, too. We got to do something similar in Florida and it was so cool!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:47 pm

      That’s awesome! I think there’s a popular turtle location down in Key West somewhere? Would love to make my way down to Florida!

  23. March 5, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    That’s interesting how the sex of the turtles is determined. I think this would be so interesting in person!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:48 pm

      Yeah, I had no idea!

  24. March 5, 2015 / 11:15 pm

    I love turtles, they are such cute little creatures and so nice!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:51 pm

      Aren’t they? I thought they were adorable!

  25. March 5, 2015 / 8:57 pm

    Right well my 25th birthday can officially be deemed crap now because I did not get to spend it with baby turtles. I’m so jealous! Haha. This is one of my bucket list items for sure! Fantastic pics btw :)

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:55 pm

      I’m sure your birthday was just as special ;)

  26. March 5, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    Costa Rica sounds like an awesome place to visit! I like turtles too. Look at those little guys!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:55 pm

      It was!! I mean c’mon they have turtles!

  27. March 5, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    What a fantastic way to spend your birthday! We LOVE turtles and have had them over the years as pets. What a cool experience!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:54 pm

      Aw, I’d love to have a pet turtle!

  28. March 5, 2015 / 6:03 pm

    WOW that looks like a wonderful experience. I would love to be able to photograph something like that someday.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:54 pm

      It was tons of photo to photograph them squirming across the sand! I guess it was like a parent filming their kids first steps :)

  29. March 5, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    I can’t even tell you how much I love this. I just love turtles and it’s so amazing that you got to experience this!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:52 pm

      It was an experience I’ll never forget!

  30. March 5, 2015 / 12:16 pm

    Oh my gosh! Those are the cutest things I have ever seen! :) I have always wanted to see little sea turtles walk to the shore. Lovely pictures.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 12:51 pm

      It was ADORABLE!

  31. March 5, 2015 / 11:59 am

    What a unique and fun experience! I love sea turtles as well, though that’s partially from a love of Finding Nemo.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 12:52 pm

      Same here!! We made plenty of Finding Nemo references that day :)

  32. March 5, 2015 / 10:29 am

    What a wonderful experience! I’ve always thought sea turtles were the coolest. I can’t stand watching those nature shows where the little turtles are getting eaten by birds on their way to the water. =(

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 12:54 pm

      I know, it’s so sad! That’s why we need volunteers to help them :)

  33. March 5, 2015 / 9:58 am

    Seeing little turtles make their way back to the big blue is on my bucket list! Now I know where to go!

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 12:55 pm

      Costa Rica is the perfect place for it.

  34. Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    March 5, 2015 / 5:01 am

    That must have been really cool. I have seen this on Animal Planet before, but never in real life.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 1:00 pm

      It was really an incredible experience to help these little turtles survive!

  35. March 5, 2015 / 4:57 am

    Wow must be nice to see a lot of turtles. That is hard to come these days especially if you live in the city.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      They were super cute too!

  36. March 5, 2015 / 4:55 am

    We have visited a conservatory for turtles before and we learned about how they hatch their eggs and how they live. It’s interesting to know that being in the sun produces female and being in the shade produces males. Wow! That’s a great trivia!

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      Yeah, I had no idea the temperature determined the sex! Pretty cool.

  37. March 5, 2015 / 2:57 am

    I would love to be a part of osa conservation. Those turtles are so cute. I didn’t know they were that little.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 1:04 pm

      They’re super small aren’t they? But also very strong! I could barely hold onto one for more than a minute.