Olive ridley sea turtles nest on remote Ostional Beach in Costa Rica from August to October each year. Normally, the turtles don’t have to worry too much about people. Their nesting time coincides with the country’s rainy season, which floods the Nosara River and cuts off most beach access.
But this year, El Niño has brought drier weather that opened the beach up to people curious to see sea turtles up close — too many people. During the first weekend of September, families flocked to the beach, sometimes posing children on the large reptiles. With such a poor welcome, most turtles just turned around and left.
Seeing animals in the their natural habitat is a wonderful experience. But when humans and nature interact, there is usually an element of danger — if not for us, then for the animals. As well-meaning as we might be, we can hurt them. And for species such as sea turtles, which are all considered critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable by the IUCN, too much love can have dire consequences.