Leatherback Turtles

Run Ride Dive News

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.

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