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Selfie-Crazed Tourists Endanger Sea Turtles

Nesting Sea Turtles

Costa Rican authorities have launched an investigation after a group of tourists mobbed a local beach and disrupted sea turtles that came ashore the Pacific coast to lay their eggs.

Crowds swarmed the beaches at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Guanacaste, preventing the nesting ritual of olive ridley sea turtles, reports Daily Mail. The turtles are listed as a threatened species.

Locals gathered on the beach, swarming in by the hundreds to capture selfies with the turtles. The crowd stood in the path of the turtles and even placed their children on top of the turtles to take photos. Many of the turtles returned to sea without laying their eggs.

According to Time, every year hundreds of the sea turtles migrate to the refuge to lay their eggs. Water levels in the area that usually keep tourists away were lower this year due to droughts, which enabled the mass of irresponsible people to flock to the nesting area and disrupt the ritual.

In addition to taking photos, the crowd touched the turtles, stood on their nests, and generally made themselves a nuisance to the animals.

An investigation by Costa Rica’s Secretary of Environment is underway concerning why local officials were unable to “control the tourism that hampered and limited the natural process of spawning of turtles,” according to a post on the Environment Ministry’s Works Union Facebook page.

The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Environment and Energy has spoken out against the tourists and said the investigation will seek ways to control visitors in the future.

Earlier this year, six endangered sea turtles were released into the wild off the shore of South Carolina.

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