In Santa Cruz, Guanacaste our first leatherback turtle of the year swam ashore on September 15th to lay her eggs on Junquillal Beach a full month before the average season starts. Usually, the season begins in the middle of October and ends in March of the following year. Last year for example, it began October 17th.
The leatherback is one of the most endangered species in the world. In 1980 91.,000 were counted laying eggs where last year there was less than 1000. Scientists in Costa Rica as well as throughout the world have been alarmed at the declining numbers coming ashore.
Scientists are encouraged this year that the turtles are coming earlier. In coller weather0beach sand temperature determines the sex of most of the baby turtles born in the shallow nests. If the season is late, temperatures of more than 30 degrees celsus can “cook” the soft-shelled eggs hard. None of the eggs will then hatch.
At Junquillal, a squad of eight young men, nicknamed the “Baula Boys,” protected the nests from marauding dogs-and poachers. Although it is prohibited to harvest more than a small percentage of the eggs, they are still consumed, mostly in cantinas, for their mythical virility-instilling powers.