As reported in The New York Times (Science: September 18, 2015), hordes of tourists descended on a Costa Rican beach this past September to witness the event. In Costa Rica, the olive ridley turtles generally only lay eggs over a three-day stretch each month from August through October. Few tourists witness the event, as this time corresponds with the rainy season in Costa Rica and swollen rivers cut off access to the beach. This year, due to the effects of El Nino, the rivers were dry and access to the beach was quite easy. Thousands of tourists took advantage and descended on the beach to take pictures, snap selfies, and even ride the turtles. The predictable aftermath was that the turtles were scared off and retreated to the ocean. Fortunately, most tourists left before nightfall and many turtles returned to lay eggs.
The event shocked biologists and conservationists. Money from tourism helps fund conservation efforts,but too many tourists usually leads to destruction. Finding the right balance is difficult. The Costa Rican government plans to place more guards and patrols in the area to prevent such an event in the future. I hope that they can find the right balance.