Massive theft and sale of sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica

In by Rob van Houtum

No! Climate change is not the main reason why sea turtles struggle to survive in the world’s oceans. It’s people. People who steal, sell and eat turtle eggs. These pictures of sea turtles in Costa Rica tell it all.

Reproduction in sea turtles

Turtles bite each other in the neck during the mating process, which takes place at sea. Every one or two years, the females migrate to the shore to lay their eggs. They usually go back to the place where they were born themselves. Using her flipper-like paws the female turtle digs a 30 to 50 cm deep hole in the sand and deposits her eggs in it. While laying the eggs, she goes into a sort of trance. Poachers exploit this moment to collect the eggs and subsequently sell them. In order to protect the eggs, wildlife protectors buy them and then breed them into young turtles in a different location. When the turtle awakes from her trance, she covers the nest with sand and crawls back to sea. After hatching, the young turtles immediately move towards the water. The majority of the hatchlings are soon eaten by fish, birds and other animals that like to feed on young, soft turtles.

Here an effort is made to prevent people from selling turtle eggs to others as food. Locals are paid to sell their eggs to the marine turtle conservation project. They ensure that the eggs can safely hatch and subsequently release the hatchlings to sea.