Last updated: 05:11 PM ET, Fri September 18 2015

Tourists Taking Selfies Interrupt Nesting Sea Turtles In Costa Rica

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | September 18, 2015

Tourists Taking Selfies Interrupt Nesting Sea Turtles In Costa Rica

Image via Facebook

Attention national park visitors, give Mother Nature's creatures some space.

Tourists visiting Costa Rica's Ostional Wildlife Refuge, a national park located on the country's West Coast, made headlines this week for acting like, well, tourists.

Yahoo News Canada's Daily Buzz reported hundreds of people flocked to the refuge's beaches this past weekend in hopes of watching thousands of pregnant sea turtles emerge from the water.

The crowds got so large that several national police officers were called in to assist park rangers. However efforts to push back visitors came up short. The mass of people led some turtles to turn back to the water without laying their eggs, while some tourists were seen taking selfies with the reptiles and even touching them or resting small children on top of them. 

Ministry for the Environment and Energy workers union secretary Leonel Delgado told La Nacion that visitors' actions had "a negative impact." In addition to threatening the health and safety of the sea turtles, the overwhelming tourist presence also threatened the future of the sea turtle population.

Only a small percentage of the hatched sea turtles will survive, and that percentage may have been reduced by visitors stepping on nests and interacting with other aspects of the beach.

Costa Rican authorities said they plan to address concerns by only permitting licensed and experienced tour guides to access the beaches in the future. 

Typically, the annual "arribada" event is free from the threat of tourists as heavy river-swelling rainfall usually makes the refuge inaccessible. This year's remarkably dry season contributed to the eye-popping numbers of visitors. 

Regardless, travelers and nature lovers everywhere can learn a lesson from the overzealous tourists.

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