Episode available within Canada only.

Locals call it the arribada, Spanish for “arrival”: the magical days and nights when tens of thousands of sea turtles come ashore on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast to lay millions of eggs. In Turtle Beach, a documentary from The Nature of Things, Canadian naturalist and cinematographer Hugo Kitching follows a team of international scientists on a groundbreaking expedition to uncover the mysteries of this rare phenomenon.

The star of the arribada is the olive ridley sea turtle. Named for its green hue, the olive ridley is one of the most abundant and least understood of the world’s seven sea turtle species. Female turtles come ashore two to three times per breeding season to lay a clutch of about 100 eggs. To learn more about this elusive creature, the scientists turn to new technologies that allow them a close-up look at sea turtle behaviour.

New discoveries abound as the team investigates the nesting turtles. Biologist Vanessa Bézy employs drones and GoPros to observe the adult females out at sea, tracking their movements above and below water in the days leading up to the mass nesting event. Meanwhile, scientist Lindsay McKenna uses audio recording equipment to eavesdrop on the nests, disproving the assumption that because sea turtles have no vocal cords, they must be silent.

In a scientific first, Roldán Valverde of the Sea Turtle Conservancy takes us into the previously hidden world of a turtle nest through the use of infrared cameras. This unprecedented access allows us to follow the baby turtles on their incredible journey from embryo to hatchling to the day they finally emerge from the nest, ready to take their first perilous steps toward the sea.

I missed Christmas with my family to film tens of thousands of sea turtles come ashore in Costa Rica
Fake eggs with GPS trackers could help save vulnerable sea turtles
Turtle teamwork: Sea turtles help each other out before they've even left the nest

By documenting the work of these dedicated scientists, Turtle Beach reveals the many ways that sea turtles must beat the odds in order to survive. For Kitching, who is there to film both the arribada and the emergence of the hatchlings, it’s an amazing experience — one that inspires a whole new appreciation for the strength and endurance of these extraordinary creatures.


Credits (Click to expand)

Directed by
Hayley Smith
Caroline Underwood

Creative Producers
Erna Buffie
Hayley Smith

Produced by
Merit Jensen Carr
Jo Young


Tom Ash
Gil Tetreault

Narrated by
Hugo Kitching

Original Music Composed by
Shawn Pierce

Gabriel Levesque

Nature Photography
Hugo Kitching

Drone Operator
Agustin Munoz

Underwater Photography
Tom Fitz

Sound Recordist
Peter Sawade

Nest Camera Design
Nick Guy


Line Producers
Claire Bugden
Sandra Moore

Production Manager
Sandra Moore

Location Facilitators – Costa Rica
Julia Echeverri 
Pedro Bolanos
Julio Madriz Nunez

Production Assistants - Costa Rica
Raquel Chacon
Emanuel Brenes Gomez
Marcella  Esquivel Jiménez
Andrey MacCarthey
Roybin Rodriquez Vega
Willmer Rodriquez Vega

Production Assistant - Canada
Gordon Agar

Associate Producer
Alexa Rosentreter

Post Production Supervisor
Megan Johnston
Peter Nielsen

Graphics & Animation
Rob Baggott

Online Editor
Jack Lauder

Dialogue Sound Editor
Paul Morrow

Sound Effects Editor
Alan Geldart

Foley Artist
Russ Dyck

Foley Recordist
John Schritt

Re-Recording Engineer
Howard Rissin

Assistant Editor / Conform Editor
Matt Onischuk

Packaging Editor
Andrew Shire

Visual Researcher
Gina Cali

Production Accountants
Jolyn Hoogstraten
Moira Stagg

Business Affairs
Alexa Rosentreter
Claudette Sterling

Allegra Chiarella

Patricia Garry
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Special Thanks  

The community of Ostional, Guanacaste province, Costa Rica
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Programa Regional de monitoreo, marcaje y morfometría de las tortugas marinas en Ostional
Asociacion de Desarrollo de Ostional (ADIO) /Ostional Integral Development Association
Yeimy Cedeño Solis
Jairo Quiros
Andrey MacCarthey
Andy Brown
Kayla Goforth
Dave Ernst
Dr. Heithaus
TurtleSense (one word with two capitals)
Kerri Woloszyn


stock and archival material courtesy of

Benjamin Cook/ The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Bob McGuire/ The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Drone video provided by Vanessa Bezy and the Lohmann Lab, Biology Department,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA with support from the National Science Foundation

A Merit Motion Pictures and Renegade co-production produced in association with ARTE France, Love Nature and the British Broadcasting Corporation

For Merit Motion Pictures
Executive Producer
Merit Jensen Carr

For Renegade Pictures 

Executive Producer
Natalie Wilkinson


Commissioning Editor for the BBC
Craig Hunter 

For ARTE France

Unité Découverte et Connaissance
Hélène Coldefy  
Hélène Ganichaud

For Love Nature

Executive Producer
Alison Barrat

Executive Vice President, Programming & Development
Carlyn Staudt

For the CBC  

General Manager, Programming
Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

Senior Director of Production, Unscripted Content
Alexandra Lane

Executive in Charge of Production
Sue Dando

The Nature of Things with David Suzuki
Produced by
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation



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