Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mon Repos Turtle Rookery

Just a few miles from the boat a 1.5km strip of beach boasts one of the most productive turtle rookeries in the southern hemisphere. November through March sea turtles emerge from the crashing surf to reenact the 100 million year old reproduction ritual. Females loggerhead turtles slip from the sea and clusily make their way to the high water mark under the cover of darkness to lay eggs. Loggerhead turtles first return to their native beach at the age of 30 years, have a shell about 3 feet long and weight about 200 pounds.

Last night we were lucky enough to observe a Loggerhead dig a shallow 1 foot deep nest in the warm dark colored sand and deposit up to 200 eggs in the nest. The female then returns to the sea and leaves the youngsters soon to emerge from the sand in 6-8weeks to fend for themselves. About 1 in 1000 hatchings will survive to maturity and return to beach on which they were born. A Mon Repos Turtle Sanctuary Ranger guided us to the beach and many scientists collected data from the turtle as it laid its eggs.
Watch a quick video: here.

Here are two pictures from last night.

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