Leatherback Sea turtle Conservation Project:


Leatherback sea turtle is critically endangered around the world. Therefore, researching is basic to know how the current status of this threatened species is and to get a better understanding of its biology and threats they are facing. With researching programs we would like students to get involved on our main goal “to conserve leatherbacks”, tropical biodiversity and wildlife and terrestrial conservation.


The sea turtle research program is carried out in the beautiful Caribbean Coast. You will get the incredible opportunity to assist the Professional Scientist as their field assistant.


The program will be focused on studying the main threats leatherback sea turtle such as Global warming and the threats turtles face due to humans".


"This wonderful wildlife experience will allow you to work directly with leatherback adult females and hatchlings"

Ecology, conservation and threats of leatherback sea turtle new strategies against global warming:


The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) was listed as Critically Endangered in 2000 and its situation was defined as ‘facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future’. 


The main threats this species face are poaching, fisheries, and climate change. Thus, the main aim will be study and propose management strategies to mitigate them. Likewise, through environmental and experiential education achieve a wider awareness of the effects of human beings on their future.


The studies will be carried out at Mondonguillo Reserve which hosts the most important leatherback nesting population in the Caribbean of Costa Rica. We´ll collect scientific data which will provide essential data to improve monitoring and management of conservation strategies. For this we will do several experiments:


  • Measurements of global warming effects on such as: females behaviour, sand erosion and dune vegetation. All of this researches will help to conserve leatherback populations and its habitats.

  • Clutch relocations to hatchery.

Publications of carried out studies

1. Palomino, A., Lopez-Martínez, S., Rivas, M.L. (2020). Potential changing environmental parameters 

influence the nesting behavior of leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, at Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica. ( J. of experimental Marine ecology and biology). 


2. William J Ripple,  Christopher Wolf,  Thomas M Newsome,…. Rivas, M.L. et al. (2019). 

World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. BioScience, biz088, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088


3. Guirado, E., Tabik, S., Rivas, M.L, Alcaraz-Segura,D., Herrera,F. (2019). Automatic whale 

counting in satellite images with deep learning. Scientific reports 9, 1-12. 


4. Rivas, M.L. Esteban, N, Marco, A. (2019). Potential male leatherback hactlings exhibit higher 

fitness which might balance sea turtle sex ratios in the face of climate change, Climatic change, 156, 1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-019-02462-1. 


5. Rivas, M.L., Spínola,M., Arrieta,H., Faife, M. (2018). The effect of extreme climatic events 

resulting in prolonged precipitation on reproductive output of sea turtles, Animal conservation,21(5), 387-395.DOI: 10.1111/ACV.12404. 

6. Rivas, M.L. & González-García, F. (2016). Do students understand and accept biological evolution? A study on high school and university students. Revista eureka sobre enseñanza y educación de las ciencias, 13,12, 248-263.


7. Rivas, M., Marco, A. (2016) The effect of dune vegetation on leatherback hatchling sea-finding ability. Marine Biology,163, 13. Doi:10.1007/s00227-015-2796-4.

8. Rivas, M.L., Santidrián Tomillo, P., Diéguez Uribeondo, J., Marco, A. (2016) Potential impact of dune scarps caused by beach erosion on nesting behaviour of leatherback turtles.  Marine Ecology Progress Series,555, 239-248.

9. Rivas, M.L., Fernandez, C., Marco, A. (2015) Nesting ecology and population trend of leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriaceaat Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica. Oryx, 50, 274-282. 

10. Rivas, M.L., Santidrián Tomillo, P., Diéguez Uribeondo, J., Marco, A. (2015) Leatherback hatchling sea-finding in response to artificial lighting: Interaction between wavelength and moonlight. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 463, 143–149. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2014.12.001 


11. Santidrián Tomillo, P., Saba, V.S., Lombard, C.D., Valiulis, J.M., Robinson, N.R., Paladino, F.V., Spotila, J.R., Fernández, C., Rivas, M.L., Tucek, J., Nel, R., Oro, D. (2015) Global analysis of the effects of local climate on the hatchling output of leatherback turtles. Scientific Reports, 5, 16789 


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