Marauding tourists are hardly the only threat to sea turtles on Costa Rica’s northwest coast. Last Friday, two Coast Guard officers patrolling Junquillal beach near the town of Flamingo, Santa Cruz caught two poachers with hundreds of Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtle eggs, according to the Public Security Ministry.
The suspects, identified with the surnames Carrera and Gutiérrez, were carrying their loot of 315 lora turtle eggs in several bags when law enforcement found them Friday evening. Coast Guard officers handed both suspects over to the flagrancy court in Flamingo. Commander Rodolfo Coto, director of the Flamingo Coast Guard station, said that the eggs were no longer viable and had to be destroyed, according to a statement from the Security Ministry.
Olive Ridley turtles are listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Egg harvesting, bycatch from industrial fishing and impacts to their habitat are listed as possible reasons for the sea turtles’ downward population trends.
Coto said that Coast Guard officials have increased their patrols along the beach recently as Olive Ridley turtles come ashore in droves to lay their eggs between September and October along the northwestern coast.