A thief waits in the dark. His eyes scan the beach. Soon, he spots what he is looking for: A sea turtle digging a nest. She begins to lay her eggs in the nest. She doesn’t notice the thief.

The thief reaches into the nest. He pulls out the eggs, one by one. The turtle uses her back flippers to cover the nest. She doesn’t know that her nest is now empty.





Costa Rica


La Flor

Beaches where sea turtles nest

Olive ridley turtles come to these beaches to lay their eggs during arribadas. This Spanish word means “arrival.”

for Survival

Sea turtles have lived in our oceans for millions of years. Now, they are an endangered species. As few as one in 10,000 babies will survive to adulthood. They face many threats. After they hatch, they must crawl to the ocean. Birds and other animals try to eat them. If they make it into the water, they face ocean predators.

Four species of sea turtles come to Nicaragua to lay their eggs. Two are “critically endangered.” The third is “endangered.” The fourth is “vulnerable.”

Scale Zero 200 400 miles

Green sea turtles are an endangered species.

Some female olive ridley sea turtles nest in groups.

The greatest threat sea turtles face is people. People in some cultures eat sea turtle eggs. In Central America, poachers empty almost all of the nests on unguarded beaches. The eggs are smuggled into cities to be eaten.

It only takes one poacher to cause damage. A stretch of coastline may have only a few female turtles. If one person robbed every nest, that person could threaten an entire species.

Little is known about the routes poachers use. So, poachers are hard to catch. Then one scientist had an idea.

Trip to the sea


A female sea turtle comes onto a beach.


She digs with her flippers and makes a shallow nest.


The mother turtle lays as many as 120 eggs in the nest.


She covers the nest with sand and returns to the sea.


After several weeks, the hatchlings break through their shells.


The young turtles make their way to the ocean.