The Last Leatherback nest (for now)
Although the Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) have finished the nesting season for the year there is still a presence of them on our beautiful beach from the nests they create. Turtle nesting season is nearing the end for the year but this leaves the GVI volunteers lots of nests to excavate, and the excitement of possibly seeing hatchlings! Two weeks ago we set off to excavate what looks like it will be the last leatherback nest for the year. Excavating is always a job that requires getting a bit sandy, but this takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to leatherbacks. Females on average are between 130 and 165 centimetres long and (the females) have been recorded to weigh up to 500 kilograms. The nests these ladies make are massive, easily a meter and half deep! The journey to the egg chamber requires a team effort, one person digging and the other holding their feet so they don’t fall headfirst into the very large hole with the others clearing sand so nothing collapses! The others look on in eager anticipation with gloves on, ready to sort eggs and count to determine hatchling success rates. Our team took quite some time to locate the egg chamber, with all digging at one stage searching for the elusive eggs. Eventually we located it and discovered no hatchlings present but a very successful nest overall with 68 empty shells indicating that hopefully 68 hatchlings made it to the ocean. This made our team ecstatic as Leatherbacks are listed as endangered by the IUCN. We also discovered that nests are quite comfortable to sit in once the strenuous task of excavating is complete! See you soon leatherbacks!
A side note: although the Leatherback season runs from March to July there are still occasions when they may nest earlier or later in the year on the beach at Tortuguero. For all the leatherback fans out there, we hope this happens so there are more leatherbacks making their way into the wide world.
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