The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) encompasses 400 acres of land and 4050 acres of ocean on the Nicoya Peninsula. Ostional Beach is 7 kilometres long, bounded on the north by Punta India, the south by the Nosara River Mouth. The Refuge was created in 1983 and is co-managed by a number of different groups and institutions: the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Technology (MINAET), University of Costa Rica (UCR), Ostional Development Association (ADIO), and representatives from the local community.
MINAET Station Ostional (Foto: Ch. Figgener)
Besides the three species of sea turtles, animals that are typically seen in the surrounding area include: howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, skunks, ctenasaurus, basilisks, bats and a variety of birds. The mangrove swamp at the mouth of the Nosara River contains crocodiles and is an important nesting site for over 190 bird species. Along the beach are thousands of almost-transparent ghost crabs, bright red sally lightfoot crabs. Tide pools abound in marine life such as sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish, and shellfish. The vegetation is typical of sandy beach environments and includes coconut trees, royal palms and mangroves. Behind the beach, there are deciduous trees such as frangipani, and stands of cacti.
The beach in Ostional (Foto: Ch. Figgener)
Ostional village has a total population of between 400-500 people, in 110 families. The community has a preschool, an elementary school, and a distance learning high school.
Other than that there are a couple of small stores (pulperias), a bar, and two restaurants (sodas) in Ostional, but no bank or clinic.

Ostional Community and the Spectacular Arribada
While the project does not work directly with the Olive Ridley turtles nesting in Ostional, our volunteers will often be lucky enough to witness first hand the unique spectacle of the arribada – one of nature’s true wonders. Thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles leave the sea simultaneously, bumping into and crawling over each other as they ascend the beach in their endeavor to lay their eggs. At first a few hundred turtles arrive, followed by a steady stream of females for the next three to seven days (usually during the last quarter of the moon before New Moon). The Olive Ridley sea turtles (and its Atlantic cousin, Kemp’s Ridley turtle) are the only species to stage arribadas which are known to occur at only nine beaches worldwide: in Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Surinam, Orissa in India and Costa Rica.  Of these locations, Ostional beach is considered the second most important 

Arribada in Ostional (Foto: Ch. Figgener)

Arribada in Ostional II (Foto: Ch. Figgener)
The arribada arrived for the first time in the 1950s in Ostional, and soon -within a few decades- the consumptive use of sea turtle eggs, by the villagers of Ostional, but also by residents of adjecent communities was out of control. In the following years the village elders seeked the help of the government and the scientific community to put a hold onto these actions, and in 1983 the ONWR was created for the protection of the Olive Ridley turtle and their arribada
Turtles going back to the sea (Foto: Ch. Figgener)

Children from the Ostional Community with nesting Olive Ridley (Foto: Ch. Figgener) 
At the same time as the refuge was created the residents of Ostional established the Associación de Desarollo Integral Ostional (ADIO, Association of Integral Development Ostional) . Work undertaken by the Association includes beach cleanup, hatchling release, nest protection, environmental education activities for other community members, and promotion of their involvement in turtle conservation.
Members of the ADIO (most of the community) are also legally allowed to collect and sell a percentage of the Olive Ridley eggs laid in the initial phase of each arribada.
While the Olive Ridley turtle has been threatened by fishing and excessive unauthorized egg collecting in the past, its population today is stable and the number of hatchlings is rising again. It has been determined that this early harvest of eggs has no impact on the population, as many of the initial nests are dug up and destroyed by the later nesting turtle females. Nonetheless, egg collection is strictly controlled.

Community and Project Relations—Our Host Families
The project works closely with families of the Ostional community, which provide accommodation for our volunteers. These home-stays in Ostional are very important because they generate an additional income for the local families, represent an important financial alternative to the extractive uses of sea turtles, and encourage the protection of these amazing creatures.