(TMU) — Nature has the most amazing sights and surprises to offer and being in the right place at the right time while being able to capture it on film is every wildlife photographer’s dream.
Thankfully, wildlife photographers share their amazing work with those who can only dream of experiencing the unique and extraordinary bounty nature has to offer for themselves.
Biologist Vanessa Bézy was studying the olive ridley sea turtles and their reproduction. While flying her drone over the Costa Rica coastline, she captured what is likely to be the largest swarm of sea turtles on film.
Thousands of turtles were swimming across a region off the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge.
“I immediately knew there was something special going on. To this day I’m still blown away by the video. They look like bumper cars out there.”
Ostional National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1983 specifically for the turtles. Although the olive ridley is the most abundant sea turtle of the seven turtle species in the world, they are considered a vulnerable species and conservationists fear that swarms of this size may be the last ever seen.
Roldán Valverde, scientific director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Florida, said:
“This is the only time I’ve seen a video capturing this phenomenon in the water. Most of the photography documenting this occurs on the beach.”
Bézy’s wish is to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the olive ridley and that her footage will help in the efforts to maintain healthy population numbers.
Few nesting sites remain globally and Bézy is concerned that the booming tourism industry around nesting beaches will have a devastating effect on their numbers, especially since regulations to protect the nesting sites don’t seem to be enough.
Unfortunately, the olive ridley hatchlings survival rate into adulthood is very low which means that any additional threats to the population will likely have a negative impact.
Bézy is investigating the reason for the great numbers of olive ridley sea turtles gathering in that particular area between August and October which could include factors such as the type of sand, the beach orientation, and sea currents. Finding the answer could help put measures in place to increase the survival rate of the species.
Sea turtles swim thousands of miles through our oceans during their lifetimes. They are only able to reproduce after decades and females return to the same beaches where they were born to lay their eggs. Although females often lay hundreds of eggs in one nesting season, few hatchlings will survive their first year of life and those who do face growing human caused threats such as being caught in commercial fishing gear, illegal trade, consumption, climate change, and pollution.
Diminishing numbers in sea turtle populations have devastating effects on marine ecosystems. WWF (World Wildlife Organization) explains their importance:
“Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster, and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value. Five of the seven species are found around the world, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. The remaining two species, though, have relatively restricted ranges: Kemp’s ridley is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and the flatback turtle around northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea.”
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