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Hawksbill sea turtle research in Costa Rica

June 28 2018

Hawksbill sea turtles are particularly threatened in the Eastern Pacific ocean, with only 500 nesting females left in the whole region. We have discovered that a small population of juvenile hawksbill sea turtles uses the rocky reefs around the waters of Costa Rica to feed and grow.

Join me as I explore the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, studying these animals, following their movements, and working with the local communities to ensure the survival of this species.

June 28 2018


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Mission Underway

Day 2, July 5th (1/2): Matapalito Bay

Matapalito bay has proved to be one of the most important foraging grounds for green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles in the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Sea turtle scientists have debated about the taxonomic classification of green turtles for decades. For some, Chelonia mydas should be considered a single species, even though its populations have different physical traits, the genetics is basically the same.

After several years of studying in-water sea turtle populations in the area, researchers from Equipo Tora Carey have discovered that Matapalito Bay is not visited only by Pacific green sea turtles (that we call black sea turtles, and some scientists consider a sub species of the green turtle) but its also visited by green sea turtles from the Indopacific Ocean, with a distinctive morph and colorations of their shell!!

During our research we had the chance to capture both a black turtle and an indopacific green turtle, we took tissue samples that will be used for genetic studies to help us solve the dilemma of the green turtle. Can you tell the difference?? (Look at pictures)

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I am very sorry for the delayed update, on the field connection was not always available. Now that I'll be staying in the capital for a couple of days I'll be updating the exploration and giving you a very detailed description of the amazing things we encountered!

First of all, I want to thank Lush Cosmetics North America for making this trip happening as well as the crew from the Sharkwater, and the Fins Attached organization.

Day 1, July 4rd: El Jobo

El Jobo is a small community in northern Costa Rica, here the Equipo Tora-Carey ( has been working on foraging grounds and nesting beaches of Pacific green turtles and Hawksbill turtles.

We joined them as we went diving around the site, due to bad visibility we were not able to catch any turtles for our research, even though we did encounter a big female green sea turtle during our test dive.

Tomorrow we will go snorkeling with the locals at a site were sea turtles are frecuently caught as part of the team's research. Hopefully we will have the chance to find hawksbill sea turtles!!

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We have departed!!

The expedition aboard the Sharkwater has officially started!

Tomorrow we will dock at El Jobo, here, the Equipo Tora-Carey has been studying green turtles and ocasional hawksbill sea turtles at nesting beaches and foraging grounds. Barely a month ago, a nesting hawksbill sea turtle was tagged with a satellite transmitter by this team for the first time in Costa Rica! Hopefully they will share some cool information with us!

We will have two morning dives, and in the afternoon we will set up a sea turtle net in order to catch and monitor sea turtles at foraging grounds!

Stay tuned!!

Preparation Stage

For my next field campaign, I will have the support of the SharkWater research vessel. This incredible boat is owned by Fins Attached, and organization based in the United States.
Taken from their website ( : "Sharkwater is a 134-foot vessel that was originally built in Japan and used by Japanese fisheries but now has been repurposed for the good of our oceans through the marine research and conservation mission of Fins Attached. Sharkwater will be a host to many different professions within the field. Scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), marine science students, and documentary crews will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, and to achieve the objectives of Fins Attached."

Getting very excited about this!

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Expedition Background


My name is Daniel Arauz, I'm a National Geographic Explorer part of the new Photo Ark EDGE fellows ( For the past years I have been working with the Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species (CREMA) on a recently discovered foraging site for the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. My main objective is to track these animals using acoustic telemetry in order to find new feeding grounds, as well as engaging the local communities in the protection and conservation of this emblematic species.

I will be exploring the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, joining marine biologists and conservationists on their efforts to protect marine environments in my country. We will be looking for sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, and other marine fauna moving across different sites in order to strengthen the conservation efforts made by the local authorities.