Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leatherback Turtles

Leatherback Turtles

(note: hatchlings should not be handled without special gloves)

Female Leatherback Laying Eggs

These magnificent creatures are the largest species of any turtle on Earth and they can grow to a remarkable size of over 2 meters (up to 8 feet) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (over 900 KG), they migrate further than any other turtle (6,000km) and dive to an incredible depth of almost ⅔rds of a mile (4,200 feet) while hunting their favorite food, the jellyfish. The Leatherback Sea Turtle is found throughout the tropics and some temperate regions and have been seen as far north as Canada. Even though they enjoy the largest distribution area of any vertebrate, their numbers are dwindling and have disappeared in many parts of the world.

The reasons for their decline are mostly due to human activity. In many cultures their eggs are are used for subsistence and, in some they are considered potent aphrodisiacs. Thousands die that are caught in fishing nets every year, and while international law require their release, there is a lucrative black market for Turtle meat and very few countries police these laws. Perhaps the most common cause of death however is due to the ingestion of plastics. Our oceans have become a vast repository for plastics that flow in through our waterways. To the Leatherback many plastics appear to be their favorite food, jellyfish. Because they cannot digest plastic, any plastic ingested stays in their digestive tract and will disrupt their entire system. Dead Leatherbacks have been found to have consumed as much as 11 pounds of undigested plastic.

Zone de Protection

In 2010 Arthur J. Lenius had a meeting with the Ministerio de Ambiente and discussed the importance of the Playa as a nesting area for these creatures. As Arthur stated, “The biggest problem on our beach was that vehicles would (inadvertently) drive over the nests, crushing the eggs.” Because our beach is in the “protected zone” signs were placed on the beach and berms were constructed on the roads preventing motorized vehicle access to the beach. Currently the Ministerio de Ambiente sends in teams to monitor and protect the nests.
Ambiente Turtle Protection Program

 ¡ MIGRATION - Averaging 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) each way!

 ¡ NESTING - Females spend their whole lives at sea and only leave the ocean to lay their eggs.

They always come at high tide at night and lay between 70 to 80 eggs.
BTW - Males spend their entire lives at sea, never leaving the water

 ¡ SEX - Did you know, the average temperature determines the gender of the turtles?

- Females are born if a nest temperature is above 85.1°F (29.5°c)
- Males are born if it is cooler.
 ¡WEIGHT- Up to 2000 pounds (900kg)
 ¡SIZE- 6 to 8 feet in length (2 to 2.25 meters)

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