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Refugio Nacional De Fauna Silvestre Ostional

This refuge is 8 kilometers (5 mi) in length and encompasses 162 hectares (400 ac) of land and 587 hectares (1,450 ac) of adjoining Pacific Ocean along the coastline of Nosara and Ostional. The area was declared protected in 1982 and became an official Wildlife Refuge in 1984. It was created to protect the nesting ground of the olive ridley turtle, or lora as it’s known locally. Ostional beach is one of the two main Costa Rican nesting grounds for this endangered turtle. Unregulated harvesting of the turtles eggs was one of the key reasons for creating the reserve. Locals believe drinking the turtle eggs raw will increase sexual virility, and they are a popular shot in many Tico bars. To combat this problem, conservationists found a unique solution of exchanging goods for services, where everyone wins. The turtles nest in mass waves known as arribadas. In 1987, Ostional residents were given the right to harvest a percentage of eggs from the first three days of each arribada. These early eggs are usually crushed by the following day’s incoming turtles and rarely make it to fruition. In exchange, the locals act as park rangers to prevent others from harvesting the eggs.

Having a protected nesting area is very important to preserving the olive ridleys. Experts believe that their mass nesting is a survival instinct due to their small size. There are few beaches left with room for large amounts of turtles to safely lay their eggs. The main nesting season lasts roughly from May to December (though arribadas occur all year), with a peak in August to October, the height of the rainy season.

The olive ridley arribadas are a very different viewing experience when compared to other turtle species. Most turtles are more private about their nesting, easily disturbed and sensitive to light. When the olive ridleys begin arribada, they become completely oblivious to their surroundings. They come out day and night, crawling all over each other intent on only one thing, laying their eggs, regardless of who or what is around them.

The refuge stretches from Playa Guiones to Punta India, a rocky point made up of several tide pools that are home to starfish, shellfish, ghost crabs, sea urchins and lizards. There is a ranger station in Ostional that’s open from 8 am to 4 pm where guided tours are available.

If you’re traveling through, there are just a few places along the main road to eat, and the food is typical Costa Rican fare. Bar Las Brasa Del Pacifico is a popular spot with locals and gets a bit livelier at night. The town favorite is Soda La Plaza, which is open all day and offers camping in the back. If you are spending the night and need more accommodation than a tent, Cabinas Ostional, on the main road, offers basic budget rooms with cold water. For more upscale lodging, Purusha Ecolodge, also on the main road, offers attractive rooms with air conditioning, hot water and WiFi.


Other places nearby Refugio Nacional De Fauna Silvestre Ostional: Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Sámara, Santa Cruz, Playa Carrillo, Carrillo, Nosara, Playa Avellanas, Montezuma and Playa Negra.

By Bramble Heidt
11 Nov 2010

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