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Ostional National Wildlife Refuge was created to protect important nesting sites of sea turtles, especially the Pacific ridley and leatherback, and occasionally green turtles. At the World Conference for the Conservation of Sea Turtles, this site was designated the second most important hatchery in the world.
A large part of the world population of Pacific ridley turtles arrives at Ostional to nest. The turtles make for a narrow sandy strip 900 meters long between Ostional estuary and División Point. They take over the beach in large arribadas that last 4-8 days, mainly between July and December, but they can arrive on their own or in small groups throughout the year. The turtles crawl to the sand dunes, dig a hole about half a metre deep and lay nearly 100 eggs. This task lasts about 25 minutes and then the turtles return to the sea, after having spent an hour on land. The hatchlings are born 50 days later and as soon as they leave the shell they head for the water. On the way they are attacked by sea gulls, crabs and other animals that drastically reduce the number of survivors.
Ostional National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 248 hectares of hot and sub-humid coastline, which has been developed for real estate. It is located between India Point to the north and Guiones Point to the south. Despite the alterations to the site, the landscape is still of great scenic beauty with the Ostional, Nosara and Guiones Beaches, cliffs, rocky platforms and a coastal plain, watered mainly by the river Nosara. Walks are possible for 18 kms. along the seashore and small fish, sea urchins, starfish, anemones and numerous crabs can bee seen, trapped in the tidal pools at low tide.
Identifaction has been made in this conservation area of 190 species of birds, including the brown pelican, magnificent frigatebird, royal tern, Neotropic cormorant, white fronted amazon, roseate spoonbill and Sabine's gull.
The remaining stands of forest are mainly composed of gumbo-limbo, frangipani, brazilwood and manchineel and serve as a refuge to howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, white-nosed coaties, ctenosaurs and kinkajous. Another attractive feature of this refuge is the arrival during the nesting season of the leatherback turtle, the largest sea turtle of the world (up to 700 kilos) from November to January.
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