National Geographic : 1973 Oct
ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL A. ZAHL, Ph.D. .o,,. (,OGRAPH.C!MOR SL.,Ir Turtle Beach lifeless infants, decapitated cleanly as though by a 16th-century headsman. The seven others had been just as neatly beheaded by scissors sharp beaks. "Not more than one in a hundred makes it to the water," commented Dan McDuffie, who was also combing the beach. His hands held half a dozen live hatchlings. Tossing them into the surf, he added grimly: "At least the vultures won't get these." Early every morning Dan and his wife, Joan, hiked this half-mile stretch of sand, recording the number of tracks left by female turtles that might have come ashore under cover of darkness to deposit their eggs. Dan and Joan are Peace Corps Volunteers assigned to aid in the University of Costa Rica's study of the Pacific ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), a species quite distinct from such other-and better-known-sea turtles as the days tens of thousands will emerge from the sea, march beyond the surf's reach, and lay their eggs. The arribada-"arrival"-isone of nature's most spectacular phenomena.