Costa Rica: First diary entry

Hello Costa Rica expeditioners,

With the trip starting in about a week, it’s a great time for introductions, an overview of the project and what we hope to accomplish with the help of citizen scientists from around the world. I’m Lucy Marcus and I will be your expedition leader for the turtle research trip in Costa Rica. I look forward to returning to this richly abundant costal region of Central America to explore the beaches and help protect the sea turtles nesting there.

Lucy Marcus

I am currently in California organizing my gear and making sure I have all the items listed in the project dossier packing list. Make sure you check off all the items, so you will be comfortable and correctly outfitted as well! It will be great meet you all in Costa Rica and introduce you to our turtle research scientist Fabian Carrasco who you will meet at your arrival to the Paquare beach research station.

Fabian Carrasco

The first person you will meet in Hotel Santo Thomas is Nicki Wheeler, from our local partner organisation Latin American Sea Turtle. Nicki will send you on your way on the mini-bus which transfers to a boat that brings you through the coastal wetlands to the research station. Fabian and I will be awaiting your arrival at the research station where you will get settled in to our cabins before going straight into learning how to measure turtles and collect eggs during our nightly beach patrols.

The 2018 expedition report is now published and explains how successful we were last year. It was fantastic to read that 65 % of the nests were saved due to volunteer effort and that the turtle population in the region we work in is stable. Working with Fabian this year, we will continue with our efforts to protect turtles. As stated in the 2018 report, here is what we will do this year:

  • conduct nightly beach patrols
  • record data on nesting turtles including measurements
  • tag turtles
  • re-locate eggs to a safe hatchery
  • monitor the hatchery
  • release any turtles that hatch
  • exhume nests after hatching
  • work on hatchery material construction
  • do beach clean-ups and marine debris removal

I arrive in Costa Rica on 2 May and will get the research station prepared for the expedition. I will send another message with my local contact details once I am on the ground in Costa Rica.
Once I am at the research station, communication will be minimal as there is limited reception for local mobile phones. Remember that the research station and the region around it does not have any access to WiFi. Local phone reception is only available on the beach near the research station, not in the cabins and a local SIM card is necessary to make mobile phones function correctly (more details are in your dossier). My phone is available for emergencies and for minimal communication with the Biosphere Expeditions HQ. I will share my local number with you once I have arrived in Costa Rica and picked up a SIM myself. Hopefully you can resist the need for frequent international communication with the outside world, and you can enjoy being off-grid for the expedition, soaking up the experience of remote beach isolation.

I imagine you are all reading our expedition material and know that your gear and clothing is essential for this project. It takes some time to make sure we all have dark clothing for night patrols, comfortable shoes for walking many hours on the beach each night, rain gear and a headlamp with a red light. A pack for carrying gear snacks and a large enough water bottle to support your journeys on the beach in hot weather will all come in handy too.

I look forward to meeting all of you and searching for turtles on the beach together. Safe travels and see you in Costa Rica!

Lucy Marcus

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