Throughout the whole world, there are seven species of sea turtles. Five of those species are present in Nicaragua. The most common one in our area are called Olive Ridley (Paslama), which are known to come in thousands to La Flor Wildlife Refuge to lay their eggs in so called “arribadas” (mass arrivals).
The main season for mass arrivals is between July and December. More than 100,000 olive ridley nests are laid on La Flor beach every year with an average nest size of 80-100 eggs. The little baby turtles (hatchlings) are commonly seen during that season, too. Turtles usually return to the beach they were born on to lay their eggs.
Some solitary turtles and individuals of other species like the Hawksbill or Leatherback turtle also visit Playa El Coco to lay their eggs. The Parque Marítimo has built a nesting area on the North end of the beach and lets the baby turtles go during sunset. Keep your eyes open for a crowd of people staring on the ground and seemingly taking pictures of the sand…Some baby turtles are on the go!
When to best visit La Flor? The best time to see turtles is after sunset and later at night. When arribadas are happening and you have a rental car, also consider to go back in the early morning hours just before sunrise. There will only be a few turtles left, but it’s a much better time to take some great photos.
Turtle watching etiquette
Never stand right in front of a turtle and avoid loud noises. Never directly point a flash light at a turtle or take photos with a flash light before they have laid their eggs. Light and noise will irritate the turtle and she will turn around and not lay their eggs. Stay on the side or behind the turtles. Take photos only when turtle is returning to the ocean. Try and limit the number of photos you are taking to 1 per turtle. If you are lucky one of the guards will dig a whole behind the turtle when she is laying the eggs, feel free to take photos from behind, but please be respectful.
Baby turtles find their way to the ocean via the downward slope of the beach and the reflections of the moon and stars on the water. Flash lights will misguide them, so please avoid using those.