Costa Rica Sea Turtle Species

There are seven species of sea turtles in the world. Costa Rica is home to 5 of them.

Four of the five sea turtle species found in Costa Rica can be seen in the Caribbean coast, including green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles. The fifth species, the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) can only be found in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

In this section we will learn more about sea turtles. But first of all, what type of animals are sea turtles?

Sea turtles are reptiles, which means they are vertebrates that have scales covering their bodies and their body’s temperature fluctuates according to the environment temperature. Different from all other retiles, though, all turtles have a carapace (shell) that is formed by the fusion of their ribs with broad dermal bones. In the tree of life, turtles in general are more closely related to crocodiles and birds than to the other reptile groups, and fossil records indicate that sea turtles evolved more 110 million years ago. That means sea turtles shared the Planet with the dinosaurs, and they are still around to tell the tale. Currently, there are seven living species of sea turtles, five of which nest in Costa Rica.

Bathed by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a paradise for marine life inhabited by five species of these species. Four of the five sea turtle species found in Costa Rica can be seen in the Caribbean coast, including green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles. The fifth species, the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) can only be found in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

The other two species of sea turtles that do not show up in Costa Rica are the Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), which is endemic to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of the USA, and the flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus), which is endemic to Australia.

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Green Sea Turtle

Leatherback Turtle

Loggerhead Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle

Olive Ridley