Features Lepidochelys olivacea Nesting (Testudinata: Cheloniidae) between 2010 and 2012 in Playa Tortuga Ojochal, Osa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) have been amply studied on Costa Rican beaches that experience mass nestings, “arribadas”, both in their nesting behavior and other aspects of their biology; however, very little published information exists about beaches where the Olive Ridley is nesting in solitary form, especially along the Southern Pacific Coast. For this reason, the objective of this study is to describe relevant nesting aspects, such as number of nest per season and nesting sites of L. olivacea on the Tortuga Beach in the South Pacific of Costa Rica, during three nesting seasons (2010, 2011, 2012). The beach was divided into 14 sectors of 100m each. Beach patrols were conducted every night from July to December (2010) and July to January (2011, 2012), with the purpose of observing and recording nesting behavior in the turtles as well as to protect their nests. The females observed were identified by means of metal tags applied to their rear flippers. Other data collected included: number of eggs deposited, nest location, hour, biometric data (width and length taken along the curve of the carapace), and the total of nests laid (found with or without the turtle present). After three seasons, 100 females of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle were successfully marked, and a total of 233 nests were counted. The frequency of re-nesting of an individual during a season was of every 14 to 20 days and four individuals re immigrated to nest again over the period of one year. The total population of nesting females during these three years was estimated at 117. The peak nesting happens in September, more sea turtles visited the beach during this period in all the seasons reported. With respect to biometry, the average value of the LCC was 69.91±1.05cm and the average value of the WCC was 70.476+/-1.767cm. A total of 18 711 eggs were collected and 9 858 were successfully hatched. The Tortuga Beach was proven to be a nesting beach of the species L. olivacea; the population of nesting females on the beach can be considered significantly reduced in comparison with other nesting beaches of the same species along the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Furthermore, marking the turtles with metal tags has proven a useful tool towards the characterization of the nesting aspects of the sea turtles, such as the frequency and interval of re-nesting, and other variables such as the re immigration which requires a period of time greater than the time period of the study to date.