Abstract

The nesting of the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtle was studied from 2006 to 2012 in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, an important solitary nesting site and center of eco-tourism in the Osa Peninsula. During this period, 958 nests were recorded (mean: 136.9 nests per season; density: 3.8 nests/100m of beach per season), of which 38% were relocated to a hatchery. The incidence of poaching was reduced from 85% in 2005 to a mean of 10.1% from 2006-2012. A total of 335 nesting females were tagged; the mean curved length of carapace was 66.1cm, the mean curved width was 70.2cm, and the mean number of eggs per nest was 96.3. A mean rate of reproductive success of 79.2% was obtained and over 61 000 hatchlings were liberated from the hatchery. This project is an example of a successful community-based conservation and eco-tourism initiative.

 
Keywords: Olive Ridley, Cheloniidae, nesting biology, sea turtle, poaching, community-based conservation.