Want to Watch Baby Turtles Hatching!? Where to Go and When
The tiny flip-flop of dark ovals, not designed for movement on solid ground. The frenzied rush of something so small, in its first moments of life, fighting for survival. Then the moment of relief, the realisation of a life ahead, as that tiny creature reaches the ocean.
On the bucket list for most nature lovers and eco warriors is the magical event that is the hatching of baby turtles. Last week I told you about one of my favourite places in the World: Latin America. The incredible diversity of wildlife and geography makes it a perfect place to visit for nature-lovers. But what I missed talking about was the wonder that is the hatching of sea turtles. With a coast on both the Pacific and Caribbean, the variety of habitats allows turtles to nest year-round. Hatching occurs a month or two later, in the early hours of the morning. June and July are particularly good times to go;
Leatherback and Atlantic Green Sea Turtles will be hatching on the Caribbean coast; Pacific Green and Olive Ridley Turtles on the Pacific Coast; and Hawksbill can be found on both!
This incredible spectacle can be over in a matter of minutes. Of the 356 species of turtle alive today, many are endangered, some highly so. It is strange to think that in some ways this event, happening almost silently and under the cover of darkness is part of a fight for survival of an entire species. Once these tiny creatures have reached the waves, they will dive down into the under-current and get swept out to sea, safe from birds and land predators. One or two days after entering the water, these tiny creatures will be in a “swim-frenzy” to carry them as far from predators as possible. And then? We don’t know. When they are out of your sight and away from the beach, the turtles will begin their “lost year”. Researchers still don’t know where a turtle goes for the first year of its long life.
For those not keen on hanging out on a Costa Rican beach under the stars (sounds pretty ideal to me but in the early hours of the morning you may prefer to be in bed…) you can contact some of the fantastic conservation projects springing up around the country and ask whether any of their incubators are due to hatch. If you’re keen to get more involved, there are plenty of opportunities to stay and volunteer with these sanctuaries, spending time with the animals and learning about the wonderful work that goes on.