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Costa Rica – Citizen Science Turtle Conservation Expedition: January 12-20, 2024


Join a Sea Turtle Research Expedition in Costa Rica

Join sea turtle and shark biologist Randall Arauz on a sea turtle research expedition in Costa Rica’s Northwest Pacific coast.

Randall is the Science and Development Consultant for the Endangered Marine Species Rescue Center of Costa Rica (CREMA-Costa Rica), a grassroots non-profit, and the International Marine Conservation Policy Advisor for Marine Watch International, a San Francisco California based non-profit.  Most of the field work is held in the Nicoya Peninsula, and Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica.

Sea turtles are one of the main groups that CREMA works with, operating 4 community-based nesting olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) conservation projects (San Miguel, Costa de Oro, Bejuco and Corozalito).  We also perform “in-water” monitoring of green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtle populations.

During our sea turtle expedition, we will proceed to directly catch turtles during dive activities or catch them by means of special turtle nets.  Only the biologists are allowed to catch turtles, but we always need assistance bringing the turtle on-board and during other procedures.  Turtles are brought on board for weighing and measuring.  We obtain tissue samples for genetic and stable isotope analysis, and proceed to tag with external metal flipper tags.

The science generated is used to foster the improvement of sea turtle conservation and management, such as by identifying critical and essential habitats for these species, identifying the threats, and calling on the authorities for the appropriate measures to be taken at these sites.  Through our sea turtle work we have already created two marine protected areas in the Nicoya Peninsula for sea turtles, the Caletas National Wildlife Refuge (2006) and the Camaronal National Wildlife Refuge (2009).  We are also working with the Ministry of Environment on the creation of new marine protected areas, particularly considering the threat posed by a potential return of the shrimp trawl industry, banned since August of 2019.

Our intention is for your support to go beyond a sea turtle expedition.  We need as many sea turtle advocates to support our work as possible for the science to influence public policy…that’s where the real trick is at!  Hopefully, after a week’s infusion into sea turtle biology and conservation, you’ll be an activist!

During this expedition we will visit the Catalina Islands, an archipelago of over 20 Islands and rocky outcrops.  The area is currently unprotected, and is heavily used by the dive tourism industry, the sports fishing industry, and the small-scale fisheries industry.  We are working with local conservation groups for a protection status to be granted to the site.  We will also explore several rocky outcrops in the Gulf of Papagayo and Bahía Culebra.  Depending on the weather we may travel to the Bat Islands.

Finally, we will visit a sea turtle nesting beach.  This time of the year is the season for critically endangered leatherback turtles and endangered green turtles.  Although our main priority is to see nesting leatherback turtles, it may not be possible.  Numbers of nesting leatherbacks at Las Baulas National Park has declined 98% during the last two decades.  Nowadays, even during the peak of nesting activity (late December – early January), not even a turtle a night shows up to nest.  Depending on nesting activity and the advice provided by the Park Rangres, we may change the objective and seek for nesting green turtles in Playa Nombre de Jesús, a nearby nesting beach.


Sea Turtle Nesting in Costa Rica


In Las Baulas National Marine Park in Playa Grande, where for thousands of years, the leatherback turtles that hatched in Playa Grande have returned to lay their eggs.  Leatherback turtles are the largest marine turtles in the world, weighing approximately 1200 pounds and almost 8 feet long, and one of the most endangered.

The area is home to the second largest nesting location in the world for leatherback turtles.  Because of this, the area is heavily regulated to protect the habitat.  Nesting seasons are typically between October and February.

Leatherback Turtle

The leatherback turtle is the largest living sea turtle. It is also a species that has rapidly declined in numbers mainly due to human influences.  They grow to between 1.2 and 2.4 meters (4 and 8 feet) long and can weigh upwards of 360 kilograms (800 pounds).  The leatherback turtle has been cruising around the world’s oceans (Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean) for more than 100 million years.

Night tours are available through the Playa Grande MINAE headquarters between October 20 and February 15.  You must contact the office at +506-2653-0470 ext. 101 no more than eight days before you want to visit.  This is your best opportunity to see the leatherback turtles nesting here. 

Olive Ridley Turtle

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is one of the most abundant sea turtle species, as well as being one of the smaller ones.  They typically only weigh between 34-45 kilograms (75-100 pounds). Olive Ridley sea turtles return to the same beach that they hatched from.  In a few special places they nest in large masses called arribadas. The arribadas are timed with the tide and the moon cycle.  Witnessing an Olive Ridley arribadas is an experience unmatched by any other.

The turtle nesting tour near Playa Samara through Viator is an excellent choice.  If you go during the peak Olive Ridley nesting season, your guide will take you to Playa Ostional where you will have the opportunity to potentially witness an arribadas (September-October).

Welcome to Rich Coast Diving

Rich Coast Diving is a PADI 5* Career Development Center and Project AWARE Partner located in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.  The dive shop has been around since 1993 and since 2022 owned and managed by Céline Monfort and Niels Prinssen. Designing a new shopfront for this business can be stressful but fortunately, there are services now that can do it on a budget.

We offer scuba diving and snorkeling trips for beginners and advanced levels.  Come explore the best dive sites Costa Rica has to offer with our experienced team.  Our staff is all up to date and trained on a frequent basis in order to stay familiar with the PADI standards. We speak and teach courses in English, French, Spanish, German and Dutch.

As a PADI Career Development Center (CDC) we offer the full range of PADI Professional Training Courses, Internships and Experience work shops.  We are there to help you every step of the way in becoming a PRO. With PADI Platinum Course Director – Martin van Gestel.

The Palms at Coco Beach

is the exciting new accommodation, restaurant and bar in Playas del Coco, on the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica.  The hotel is only 20 minutes from Costa Rica’s second international airport at Liberia and 2 minutes walk to the beach, just 82 feet away. Or walk 3 minutes and be in the center of town!

Lounge poolside at The Palms and enjoy the soothing sound of the fountain and the warmth of the sun as you relax completely in our garden setting.  Join new friends for a poolside cocktail, enjoy a delightful meal from our extensive menu, then sink into the luxury of our quality imported linens in your comfortable ensuite room.

Rich Coast Diving includes:

  • 8 nights lodging with daily breakfast
  • 5 days x 3 tanks boat dives, 1 day x 2 tanks boat dives
  • Transfer from Liberia to Playas del Coco, return
  • Evening Green Turtle Nesting reservation, includes transportation
  • All fees, taxes included

Dive Package does not include:

  • International flights Denver (DEN) to Liberia (LIR)
  • Leatherback Nesting (if available)
  • Land tour (diving complete)
  • Donation – future turtle conservation
  • Scuba Training
  • Rental dive gear
  • Nitrox (optional)
  • Crew gratuities
Complete Dive Package Pricing – $1769

Prices are per person in USD, based on double occupancy.  Ask for single occupancy diver or upgraded room rates.


Deposit:  $500 to reserve your space (deposit is non-refundable)

Final Payment:  Balance is due on December 1, 2023

Passport requirement – must have 6 months remaining until expiration date upon return to USA.

For all dive trips, consider purchasing travel insurance, and dive accident insurance.  Both are highly recommended, and are made available to purchase!

To purchase DAN dive accident insurance, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the DAN banner link, Join DAN Today!, then follow the prompts on DAN’s website.

To purchase travel insurance, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the DAN banner link, Purchase Travel Insurance?, then follow the prompts on DAN’s website.


Some sunscreen ingredients are not safe for corals; these include oxybenzone.  Research indicates that these chemicals can cause DNA damage to corals, promote viruses in corals, and contribute to the bleaching of corals.  So that we can help protect our reefs, we encourage our guests to choose and use a sunscreen that is “coral safe”.

To purchase eco-friendly sunscreen products, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the Stream2Sea banner link, use code, “cleanreef” for a 10% discount.


Price is per person and based on double occupancy and items specified. Space is subject to availability, price subject to change without notice and not guaranteed until deposit is received.  Cost for airfare cannot be guaranteed until paid and ticketed. Some restrictions may apply.

* Credit card or any payments made through the PayPal invoice will be charged an additional 3.5% (5% international payers).  This fee covers the cost of the PayPal fee. Venmo, Zelle, Send Money to Friends and Family, and checks are always welcome.

If interested, please contact Andy Skuntz, at Colorado Dive + Travel Adventures, email to, or call at 719-322-6941.  This exciting trip will fill up fast.

Trip flyer, terms and conditions, and a trip application will be provided.  Once the application is complete, please return to Andy via fax or email, then an invoice for the designated deposit will be provided.

Bonus – we’re going during whale watching season:


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