Tourists invaded the Puerto Rican beach which was being inhabited by olive ridley turtles for nesting hence disturbing the sea turtles nesting habits.
The Puerto Rican coastline is a habitat for olive ridley turtles for nesting. Every year, between August and October, the turtles come ashore to lay eggs and nest.
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The nesting duration coincides with Costa Rica’s rainy season. It is ordinarily believed to provide a natural barrier that protects the turtles. During that time, the beach is usually cut off by the flood tide of the swollen Nosara River.
The flooding blocks access on bridges. Even in the dry season, the beach is accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle driven by a local guide.
This year however low rainfall caused by El Niño left the river all but dry, making passage to the beach easy. The dry passages allowed a large population of tourists to come and see the turtles. The over excited and insensitive crowd did more damage than good.
Instead of quiet observation and caution in the sensitive phase of the turtles, people were loud, taking selfies with the turtles in the background and even putting their children atop the pregnant turtles. The commotion led the turtles to return to the sea without laying eggs. To handle the crowd, national police officers were called by park rangers.
Leonel Delgado, Ministry for the Environment and Energy workers union secretary commented that the tourists' actions had ‘a negative impact’. In addition to threatening the health and safety of the sea turtles, the overwhelming tourist presence also threatened the future of the sea turtle population.
Authorities will be taking action, engaging the Coast Guard and all protective authorities during the next egg laying expected in October. Moreover Costa Rican authorities said that only licensed and experienced tour guides will be allowed to visit the beaches in the near future, according to NYTimes.
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Despite the disturbance, the turtles still laid eggs on the beach. The researchers and experts are reckoning that they might have done so at night, the time when they were undisturbed.