One morning this past September, word traveled up the coast that the rare and amazing large scale arrival, or “arriabada” in Spanish, of Olive Ridley turtles was beginning at Playa Ostional. This beach is one of only a handful in the world where this mass number of sea turtles arrives and makes the labored journey up the sand to lay their eggs. We knew the only way to catch this event was to jump in the car and go, so that’s what we did.
We made the journey down the coast on the bumpy dirt roads, and arrived just before sunset. Not knowing what to expect, we walked out on the beach and looked up and down, seeing nothing at first. Then, in the distance our eyes adjusted to moving spots crowding the sand, and we headed toward the smooth flat beach, ideal for turtles to climb up and lay eggs above the tide line. Getting closer, we could not believe what we were seeing in front of us. As far as our eyes could see, the beach was littered with the slow comings and goings of these determined momma turtles.
As the sun lowered in the sky we grew quiet and sat on the beach, letting the turtles pass us, still incredulous to the number of them in this one place at one time. In the waves out front, turtle heads bobbed, scoping out the expansive sandy slope in anticipation of their climb. We marveled at the fact that they too were born on this beach, and somehow returned to it after traveling the expanses of the sea.
It’s hard to say how many turtles were on the beach that evening, but the largest “arribada” thus far recorded in Ostional, took place in November 1995 when a calculated 500,000 females came ashore. Over the course of a five-day arribada, nesting turtles will leave up to 10 million eggs on the beach of Ostional. Pretty impressive numbers!
These experiences we have when traveling are what we live and work for, and what keeps us inspired and grateful.
Check out some of Trever’s photos below, and if you are interested in reading more about these amazing creatures click here.