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Sea Turtle and Jaguar Research

GDFCF supports the work of Costa Rican scientists and their research on iconic species that call ACG home, such as several species of threatened sea turtles, as well as the jaguars that prey upon them.

Sea Turtles and Jaguars

Olive Ridley hatchlings (photo by Luis Fonseca).

The coastlines of ACG support some of the most globally important nesting beaches in the world for Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Its pristine and undisturbed beaches are also home to nesting Green, Hawksbill, and Leatherback sea turtles. Olive Ridley sea turtles are known for their mass synchronized nesting events, called arribadas, when thousands of turtles come nightly to the beaches of ACG. Turtle biologist Luis Fonseca López has been studying the sea turtles of ACG for more than a decade. His sea turtle monitoring project is integral to understanding population trends over time and in designing management and conservation actions that promote the recovery of sea turtle populations in this part of Costa Rica. Fonseca has also expanded his research focus to cover the prey/predator phenomenon between nesting sea turtles and ACG’s jaguar (Panthera onca) population. While his research shows that the number of turtles eaten by jaguars has little effect on the overall population of Olive Ridleys, the turtles are an important source of food for animals of higher trophic level, such as jaguars, crocodiles, mountain lions and birds. Along with supporting Fonseca’s research, GDFCF has contributed to refurbishing Estación Nancite, one of ACG’s most remote research stations, where much of Fonseca’s work is based. You can access Fonseca's published research below:

An Olive Ridley turtle will be this jaguar's next meal (photo by Luis Fonseca).

Photo, left: Turtle biologist Luis Fonseca López (left) and his assistant, Eduardo Rangell (right), on a promontory overlooking Nancite Beach. Photo, right: An Olive Ridley lays her eggs on an ACG beach (photos by Eric Palola and Luis Fonseca)