Winner of the Fritz Pölking Award 2010

Many female olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are swimming from the open ocean towards the beach of Ostional, Costa Rica, Pacific Ocean to gather for  an arribada (mass nesting event). They are not very shy and curiously probe the photographer's equipment. They feed on a broad selection of floating organism - and unfortunately may as well bite into or even swallow plastic depris or fishing hooks. | Schwimmende Oliv-Bastardschildkröten (Lepidochelys olivacea) sind nicht sehr scheu und nähern sich neugierig ihnen unbekannten Objekten. Offenbar sind sie in Bezug auf Nahrung durchaus experimentierfreudig, was sich einerseits in ihrem breiten Beutespektrum zeigt, aber fatalerweise auch dazu führt, dass sie groÃ�e Mengen an Plastikmüll oder auch Angelköder mit Haken verschlucken und häufig daran zu Grunde gehen. (Solvin Zankl)Solvin receives the Fritz Pölking Award 2010 for his story on the Arribada of the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) in Costa Rica. The pictures are taken on the beach of Ostional in Costa Rica where turtles arrive for nesting all year round – even outside the typical season there is at least one of them every night. Three different species come here to deposit their eggs on the beach. It is one out of only four beaches worldwide where on some days up tens of thousands animals arrive for mass nesting in a so-called „arribada“.

It is also the only beach where locals are actually allowed to harvest eggs for their own use. For three weeks Solvin appears on the beach at 3 o‘clock in the morning with his cameras ready to use both under water and on the beach. It is a great pleasure for him as he discovers the first 50 or so turtles‘s heads on the surface of the water at dawn.The arrival of one olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) at the beach of Ostional, Costa Rica, Pacific coast, can be the beginning of an arribada (mass nesting event) of the sea turtles. Thousands and thousands of the 50 kilogram reptiles come ashore over a period of up to a week, only interrupted by the hottest midday sun, to bury their eggs in the warm sand. | Wenn eine sogenannte "Arribada" (span. für "Ankunft") der Oliv-Bastardschildkröten (Lepidochelys olivacea) in vollem Gange ist, kommen etwa sieben Nächte in Folge insgesamt bis zu mehrere Hunderttausend Weibchen zur Eiablage an den Strand von Ostional. Das Spektakel setzt sich bis in die Morgenstunden fort und kann sich in Abständen von ca. 28 Tagen (einem Mond-Monat) in der Zeit von April bis Dezember wiederholen. Allerdings gibt es durchaus auch ausfallende Arribadas, UnregelmäÃ�igkeiten oder auch Verschiebungen von einem Niststrand zu einem anderen über die Jahre und Jahrzehnte. (Solvin Zankl) Minutes later the first Olive Ridley Turtles reach land, followed by the next 100, followed by a thousand, followed by…impossible to count them all. Like an anthill, it is a constant coming and going. In the following days Solvin is not alone with the animals anymore; news of the event has spread and the turtles are joined by hundreds of locals who will be harvesting the eggs of this year‘s arribada for the next 36 hours, and thousands of tourists arrive on the beach by the busload.As soon as it entered the water the young olive sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) struggles against the swell to swim away from the coast. The so-called swimming frenzy lasts for approximately 48 hours to keep the hatchlings from being washed ashore. The turtles do not feed within the first days as they live on the reserves they acquired from the yolk in their eggs. The swimming hatchlings often fall prey to e.g. fregate birds or larger fish. | Die junge Oliv-Bastardschildkröte (Lepidochelys olivacea) hat es trotz der lauernden Geier, Störche, Hunde und Krabben bis ins Meer geschafft. Ihre Kraftreserven aus dem Dotter werden ihr nun helfen, einen ganzen Tag lang fast ununterbrochen zu schwimmen. Als Orientierung dient dabei die Wellenrichtung, gegen die sich die kräftigen Winzlinge stemmen, um die Küste hinter sich zu lassen. Doch auch im Wasser lauern Gefahren: Raubfische von unten und Fregattvögel von oben. (Solvin Zankl)

 

But despite all this, 50 days later many hatchlings will emerge to a dangerous start of a new sea turtle life.

Gallery of all images from the Arribada

 

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