Did you know that surfing with turtles it’s a very common experience in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a sanctuary for different species of sea turtles, having Ostional beach in the center of the Nicoya Peninsula, its main harbor. In this beach more than two million turtles nest during the year, the Kemp’s ridley being the predominant one with more than 60 percent of nesting. In 2013 a Guinness record was broken with more than 400,000 turtles nesting in one night.
Unfortunately, not everything is a fairy tale since turtles suffer from the pollution and garbage that exists in the sea. Which depletes their food and gets them trapped or mutilated with fishing nets or poison them with pieces of floatings that they confuse with food. Moreover, in all Central America sea turtles had been consumed for thousands of years as an ancestral practice in harmony with nature.
As a result, Costa Rica University, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), and the coastal communities throughout the country have created a network of small sanctuaries for turtle nesting involving an ecologically balanced economic activity through the fully regulated collection of turtle eggs and also through ecological tourism that comes to participate and support these projects from all over the world.
Surfing with Turtles in Montezuma
On Nicoya Peninsula’s surf coast between the beaches of Montezuma and Cabuya, sea turtles are often seen in the water while we surf. In this area, they find the perfect mix of stone-bottom beaches where they feed and sandy-bottom beaches where they can nest and lay their eggs. There are several turtle nesting projects in Montezuma that involve night patrolling of the new nests, care of the nests, hatching, and deep beach cleaning.
Face to Face
On one occasion I was surfing at Playa Grande Montezuma on a beautiful sunny day with perfect gentle waves. I paddled and catched a great wave but slipped and fell. When I touched the water I felt a jelly-like flat surface of good size under my back … I will not deny that the first thing I thought was: “Oh-oh!! This is big and It must have big teeth too!” so I sat on my board and immediately the owner of that jelly-like surface peeks out … a beautiful and huge leatherback turtle. After the quick introduction, I was able to breathe again and to run waves with turtles. I remember that that day the waves were very good after the rain and there were almost no people, which made the turtle stay in the surroundings for a long time. It was really incredible!
Small Actions Big Differences
When you meet your neighbors, and put a face to the other inhabitants with whom you share your favorite places, becoming aware and taking care of our environment becomes a healthy habit. Saying no to plastic bags, buying products whose packaging can be recycled, changing the type of soap and so many other small details that make a big difference in our earth and neighbors.
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