A Special Interview With Costa Rica Turtle Researcher, Kelsey Flynn.

November 5, 2015

Costa Rica vacations, surf costa rica, surfing costa rica, costa rica surfing, vacations in costa rica, costa rica vacations, costa rica rentals, rentals in costa rica, condos costa rica, costa rica condos, hotels in costa rica, costa rica hotels, jaco vacations, playa jaco costa rica, jaco beach, mal pais vacations, santa teresa vacations, Los Suenos rentals, jaco night life, costa rica night life, Costa Rica dining, Tarcoles River, Costa Rica beach, Crocodiles Costa Rica. turtles costa rica, Marine life costa ricaThe humble Sea Turtle, or Tortuga as they’re known in Spanish, is one of the most ancient animals on the planet. Their origin goes back to the late Jurassic period. Costa Rica is considered the birthplace of ecotourism, and its coast is home to dozens of important nesting beaches for four of the seven species of sea turtle- the Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley. These magnificent creatures are a very important part of Costa Rica’s economy; offering tourists exceptional opportunities to view nesting turtles in areas with pristine rain forests and diverse cultures.

Turtles aren’t just attracting tourists, but also an array of students from around the world. These nests are becoming an ever-popular place for students studying animals, to gain hands on field experience with creatures unique to these parts of the planet.

Always focused on conserving the beautiful ecosystem and wildlife in Costa Rica, Costa Rica Gurus had a chance to track down a world-renowned researcher for a special exclusive interview. Here are six questions we asked Animal Science student, sea turtle researcher and turtle activist, Kelsey Flynn.

Costa Rica Gurus:  Why did you decide to go to Costa Rica to work with turtles?

“Costa Rica really stood out to me because unlike many other countries, they offered an experience that was more suited to gaining actual field experience rather than just a ‘gap year’ experience. I’d previously worked with large animals, reptiles and amphibians at Paignton Zoo in the U.K., but by marine experience was limited, this opportunity in Costa Rica really allowed me the chance to fill a gap in my resume.

Costa Rica Gurus: What were your living conditions like? Costa Rica vacations, surf costa rica, surfing costa rica, costa rica surfing, vacations in costa rica, costa rica vacations, costa rica rentals, rentals in costa rica, condos costa rica, costa rica condos, hotels in costa rica, costa rica hotels, jaco vacations, playa jaco costa rica, jaco beach, mal pais vacations, santa teresa vacations, Los Suenos rentals, jaco night life, costa rica night life, Costa Rica dining, Tarcoles River, Costa Rica beach, Crocodiles Costa Rica. turtles costa rica, Marine life costa rica

 

“The actual site, in terms of living, was very basic. There were a handful of huts with tin roofs, which created a loud but soothing sound, when it rained at night. There were around eight people to each sleeping quarter. We slept in bunk beds with mosquito nets around us. The whole camp was powered by solar, and we got our water from a nearby well. We had very basic amenities for showering and toileting. There was a communal dining area, which was open on all sides, with a palm woven roof on top. Food came from near the campsite, whether it be fruit and vegetables, fish from the nearby river, or one of the many chickens roaming around the camp. Though I only made use of the fruit and veg, as I’m a vegetarian.

Costa Rica Turtle Researcher Interview

Costa Rica Gurus: Who did you work with?

“The team was made up of a few other animal scientists from overseas like myself, and the rest of the team were all local people, some of whom were ex poachers, which I was really happy to see. There were new volunteers coming in every week. I’d say there were around 13 of us in total. Mostly Brits, Canadians, Germans, Spaniards, Australians and Iranians.’’

Costa Rica Gurus: What was a typical ‘day at work’ on the beaches?

“We would patrol a nine mile stretch of beach every night, looking for laying turtles. If we found any laying their eggs, we would measure them, do a brief visual health check to make sure they were doing ok. If we came across hatched newborns, we would help release them into the ocean. The release process was amazing! If a nest hatched, we had to collect up all the hatchlings, which was almost always during the evening while it was cool. They spent all day gathering energy from the heat of the sand, to make a break for it at night without having to battle through the heat. Secondly they use the moon as a navigation tool back into the sea. Once they’d all been measured and weighed, we would release them about half way between the sea and the forest, as this is naturally where a turtle would lay her eggs. Turtles come back to the same beach to lay their eggs so the process of them making their way down the beach to the sea, is very important.”

Costa Rica Turtle

Costa Rica vacations, surf costa rica, surfing costa rica, costa rica surfing, vacations in costa rica, costa rica vacations, costa rica rentals, rentals in costa rica, condos costa rica, costa rica condos, hotels in costa rica, costa rica hotels, jaco vacations, playa jaco costa rica, jaco beach, mal pais vacations, santa teresa vacations, Los Suenos rentals, jaco night life, costa rica night life, Costa Rica dining, Tarcoles River, Costa Rica beach, Crocodiles Costa Rica, arribata, Turtle Costa Rica, Costa Rica Wildlife, costa rica gurusCosta Rica Gurus: Did you come across any poachers? If so, what kind of interaction did you have with them?

 “Our workwas often a bit of a race against the poachers, there was an unwritten rule that if they came across the turtle before us we didn’t disturb them, and vice versa. There were even occasions where the poachers would come over and watch us release the turtles into the ocean, while keeping a respectful distance. The poachers living on that stretch of beach seriously outnumbered us, so keeping a good relationship was as vital as finding the turtles.”

Costa Rica Gurus: What was the most awe-inspiring thing that happened during your time in Costa Rica?

“One night we had the great fortune of seeing a female turtle burying her eggs, then making her way back to the ocean. That was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Turtles take around 18 years to reach breeding age, depending on the species, and the odds of the turtles reaching that age is incredibly slim. When she’d gone, we gathered up her eggs and walked them back to our hatchery that was guarded 24/7 by other volunteers, as well as two dogs. They were reburied, within the hatchery and the date of laying was noted so we could estimated their hatching time. I was also lucky enough to witness the hatching of one leatherback turtle nest and one hawksbill nest. Each hatchling was weighed and measured before release.”

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If you’d like more information about Costa Rican seas turtles or how to set up a trip to see them with your own eyes, contact Costa Rica Gurus!


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