Sea turtles’ chance to beat extinction possibly destroyed by a selfie.
Recently, a mob of irresponsible tourists and locals in Costa Rica prevented sea turtles from laying their eggs along the coast. Authorities have now launched an investigation.
Crowds swarmed the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Officials say the eco-tourists disrupted the nesting ritual. The visitors stood in the turtles’ way as they swam ashore and even placed children on top of them to snap photos. This caused many of the turtles to return to the sea without laying their eggs.
Other tourists touched the turtles, stood on top of their nests and snapped photos with flash camera. Officials have blasted the tourists, and they want to know why the crowd wasn’t held back. They are also looking into way to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Refuge administrator Carlos Hernandez said he’s never seen a crowd quite like this. He claims that some visitors got on the beach by going through unauthorized access points. Park rangers were unable to control the large crowd.
A little turtle background… They arrive in large numbers almost every month, but September and October are peak times. Some tour guides try to cash in by offering additional tours to watch the turtles lay their eggs.
There’s also a catch to some of this. The area in Costa Rica is the only place in the world where it’s legal to harvest and sell sea turtle eggs. Authorities monitor this. Only a percentage is allowed to be collected. Officials say this law was developed back in the 1980s, and it has helped to increase the sea turtle population. Income from the sale of eggs has been used to pay for the guards at the beach.
(sources: The Costa Rican Times, The Tico Times, TVNZ)