The visit

Once at the place where the tour begins take into account the following aspects:
Most visits are restricted to a certain number of people, so it's important to inquire about availability.

The guides that are authorized to operate the tour will give a lecture with information about the site regulations and the turtles that nest at the site, as well as other data about the area and its biodiversity. The tourists will also be advised about the things they may or may not do upon entering the beach.

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 / ©: WWF / Carlos Drews
Turtle tour in Costa Rica.
© WWF / Carlos Drews
Rules for the responsible observation of nesting:

• Walk through the moist part of the beach, in this way you will not interfere with the nesting occurring up in the dunes nor with the hatchlings emerging from the nest.
• The turtles must not be disturbed; keep quiet and walk slowly. Sea turtles are sensitive to ground vibrations.
• Do not approach the turtles when they are arriving to the coast, since they may be frightened and abandon their emergence from the sea.
• If you observe tracks that lead into firm land, there's probably a turtle nesting or intending to nest. Advance with caution so not to startle and disturb the turtle – it may abandon its intention to nest. If parallel tracks are visible, the turtle has probably emerged and returned to the sea.
• Do not approach turtles in the beach that haven't initiated spawning. Keep in mind that the turtle must dig a deep hole in the sand before spawning. The spawning initiates once the turtle has been completely still for several minutes - now you may approach a little to observe (if they guide so authorizes).
• The spawning observations must be performed from behind the turtle, keeping quiet, crouching and a few meters away, so that they are not affected by your presence.
• Do not illuminate the turtle's face with artificial light (flashlights, lanterns, bonfires, etc.). Use a red filter on your lantern to observe with caution the nesting process, from behind the turtle. Do not take pictures with a flash, since turtles are very sensitive to light (the guide will usually carry the flashlight and no others will be allowed).
• Retreat from the turtle if it seems uncomfortable with your presence.
• Avoid at all costs that your movement or that of other visitors causes loose sand to fall into the nest during spawning, since this will interfere with the gas exchange through the eggshell and will harm the development of the embryos.
• The turtle eggs and hatchlings must not be disturbed or manipulated (unless it's by a person authorized to do so).
• When the turtle finishes spawning and has covered the nest with sand, it will return to the sea. Keep clear from the turtle's path on its way back.
Try to perform your visit during the high tide (see the tide chart from the Meteorological Institute), since that's the time at which the turtles find it easier to emerge from the sea. The tours are often organized at least three hours before the peak of the high tide and may extend up to three hours after it. The turtles will emerge to the sand at any moment during this time span, but keep in mind that the visit always depends on unexpected nature events so it's important to be patient.

Guided visits generally consist of three phases at the least, in which the tourists will be able to watch the turtle digging the nest, depositing the eggs and finally covering up the nest. At some places it's also possible to watch the turtle camouflage the nest and return to the sea.

The nesting process will take around 40 minutes to one hour. The time vary according to the place and the turtle species. It's very important to follow the guide's instructions in order to enjoy this wonderful experience without harming the turtles

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