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Friday, 20 November 2009 14:17

St Lucia Turtles - A quick guide Featured

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Leatherback turtle Leatherback turtle
Here is a quick guide about St Lucia's Turtles.

The Leatherback Turtle

Size : Hatchlings are 50 – 60mm in size and weigh 40g. The adult can weigh up to 916kg with a carapace (shell) of 2,5m.

Distribution : These turtles are found in every major ocean due to its ability to maintain heat when it swims through very cold water.

Migration : A turtle can travel long distances through our oceans. In French Guiana, South America a turtle was tagged and 10 months later spotted in Ghana after having travelled at least 6,080km.

Nesting : In our eastern area the leatherback nests along a 600km strip of shoreline that stretches from the St Lucia mouth to Inhambane in Mozambique.

Reproduction : A female lays up to 1 000 eggs in batches of 100 – 120 eggs at a time. There are 9 to 10 day intervals between each batch. Eggs take up to 70 days to hatch. A female can nest up to 6 times in her lifetime with 1 to 7 year intervals.

Diet : Hatchlings feed on bluebottles, pteropods and other small pleustonic fauna. Adults feed exclusively on jellyfish and have been recorded to dive as deep as 1 200m to feed.

The Loggerhead Turtle

Size : Hatchlings are 40mm in size and the adult reaches 100 – 120cm with a total mass of 160kg.

Distribution : These turtles are more common along the east coast than the west coast. They are found throughout the tropical and temperate littoral zones.

Migration : One female traveled a distance of 2640km in only 66 days – an average distance per day of 40km.

Nesting : Three major areas are Maputuland, Japan and the south east Atlantic coast of the United States.

Reproduction : An average of 500 eggs per season is laid in batches of 100 – 120 eggs with 13 to 20 day intervals. They can nest up to 8 times in their lifetime.

Diet : Carnivorous. For the first 3 years of their life they feed on bluebottles, storm snails and Pteropods. After 3 years they change to a diet of sea urchins, mollusks and hermit crabs.

In St Lucia the Turtles use the 7km coastline from the Estuary Mouth in the south to First Rocks in the north for nesting purposes.

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