The female Leatherback Turtles
Dermochelys coriacea are making their annual pilgrimage to our shores to lay their eggs. Having only ever seen them on land I was extremely privileged last week to see two during a dive and then another on the surface. Leatherback grow up to 1.7-2.5m long and weigh up to 1 ton. Females take 12-20 years to become sexually mature. The females nest every 2-3 years from October to February. They lay up to 1,000 eggs in batches of 120-150 eggs every 9-15 days. In other words they come out and lay eggs 6 to 8 times per season. Incubation takes 55-60 days between January and March. Sex is temperature related. If the nest temperature is less than 25°C then all the hatchlings will be males. If the nest temperature is greater than 28°C then all the hatchlings will be females. The hatchlings drift for up to 3 years and only 1-2 per 1,000 will survive to adulthood. Their favourite food is jellyfish. Satellite tagged Leatherbacks have dived deeper than 1,000m although less than 1% of their dives are below 300m.
Sodwana is currently cloudy and cool with flat seas. Visibility is about 20m and the water temperature is 23°C.