Conservation status: Vulnerable

Habitat: Typically found in shallow tropical waters. The Olive Ridley turtle is known to nest in large numbers. The coast of Costa Rica is one of the largest mass nesting sites in the world. In particular, Nancite and Ostional are two beaches where Olive Ridley nests are frequently found. More research is needed to collect data on pelagic habitats.

Weight: up to 50kg (110lb)

Length: 70cm (27in)

Physical appearance: this small sea turtle has a heart-shaped carapace and a broad head with a short snout that appears triangular from above. It has two claws on the front flippers. The turtle’s back is grey-green to olive in colour but can appear reddish due to algae.

Diet: jellyfish, sea urchins, snails, shrimps, crabs, oysters, and algae when their food sources are limited

Predators: eggs are prey for raccoons, coyotes, dogs, pigs, coatis and ghost crabs. Hatchlings are preyed upon by vultures, crabs, raccoons, frigate birds, iguanas and snakes. Adults have few predators; only sharks and killer whales, though adult females are sometimes attacked by jaguars on land.

Threats: the olive ridley’s skin used to be traded, which significantly contributed to the population decline. Real estate development, power plants, overfishing and ¬†drifting debris present additional threats to turtle populations. The turtles themselves also inadvertently dig up other eggs when they are laying their own in part contributing to the decline.

Mating: females often return to the beach from which they hatched. The gestation period tends to be 45-51 days, although poor weather conditions can increase this to 70 days.

Lifespan: up to 50 years

Olive Ridley Turtle of Costa Rica