Our Research Projects

Our Research Projects

Sea Turtles

Many Latin American beaches are considered some of the most important places in the world for sea turtle growth.Especially in the North pacific coast of Costa Rica we can observe many young specimens of Carey/Hawksbill  (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Black Turtles (Chelonia mydas agassizii). In fact, we believe that Bahia Cuariniquil – especially Bahia Santa Helena and Bahia Salinas – are important feeding sites that we must protect.

Which turtle species can you expect to see in our area?

Lora / Olive Ridley

Scientific name : Lepidochelys Olivacea

Carey / Hawksbill

Scientific Name : Eretmochelys imbricata

The Hawksbill turtle was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as endangered in 1970. Hawksbill turtles are a critical endangered species, estimated at less than 300 nesting females around America’s coast. Historically, commercial exploitation was the primary cause of the decline of Hawksbill sea turtles. There remains a continuing demand for the Hawksbill’s shell as well as other products, including leather, oil, perfume, and cosmetics.

Negra / Black

Scientific Name : Chelonia mydas agassizii
Subspecies of the pacific green turtle : Chelonia mydas


Rays & Sharks

In the north Pacific of Costa Rica, especially in Gulf of Santa Elena, Punta Descartes and Bahía Salinas there are benthic rays, which feed on the ocean bottom like round rays (Urotrygon chilensis) or (Urobatis halleri), butterfly rays (Gynmura crebipunctata), the giant electric ray (Narcine entemedor), different species of guitar rays (Pseudobatos spp) as well as the longtail stingray (Hypanus longus) and species of pelagic rays, which feed in deeper open water, like the devilray (Mobula thurstoni), and the white-spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus laticeps).

Urobatis halleri

The majority of these species are consistent with those species already registered in the central Pacific of Costa Rica. However, recent observations are leading the team to wonder if this area is characterized by the its ability to provide sufficient habitat for different life stages; including nursery grounds for neonates, as well as rich feeding habitat for juveniles and adults.
The oceanographic conditions and biological interactions of Punta Descartes region is different than the rest of the Pacific of Central America due to its cold water and seasonal nutrient flow. These variations may play a role in influencing the presence, behavior and migration patterns of various marine species in this area.

Our team uses non-lethal capture and tag-and-release techniques.

In this context Equipo Tora Carey built a multidisciplinary team of scientists and local research assistants, that include both children and adults, to identify the species of rays, determine patterns of distribution, movement, and local residence in the our area. Samples are collected free diving and scuba diving, as well as with the assistance of artisan and sportive fisheries.


Yellow naped Amazon (Amazonas auropalliata)

El Jobo hosts a unique population of yellow-naped amazon parrots that use a specific corridor during their daily migrations between their feeding and sleeping places. With the aim to know more about their population size, reproductive periods and social behavior, ETC conducts daily bird counts between 3:30pm – 6:30pm.
There are 6 true parrots in Costa Rica, with the yellow-naped amazon having the smallest population and range of distribution in Central America. This species only exists in the dry tropical forest, which is present in parts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica; and like the parrot, the forest is in danger of extinction. The biggest threat to the parrot is the illegal extraction of their chicks, and of all the parrots, the yellow-naped amazon is one the best at imitating man.

Counting the parrots

Volunteers are expected to perform these bird counts by themselves after receiving a detailed set of instructions and protocol on data collection. The objective of this population survey is to educate and raise awareness about the existence of these parrots in Costa Rica.

Not much is known about this species, making these surveys crucial to understanding population size, variation in behavior with respect to environmental conditions, and breeding seasons. The survey consists of counting the parrots from a fixed point during a specific time with the hopes of eventually gaining a better understanding of the various aspects of their biology. This year has been the first year in which no chick has been stolen.