November to January you can see one of natures many wonders unleashed when large numbers of Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
St. Lucia is known as the number one turtle tour destination in South Africa with high possibility to spot the Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles during a guided tour.
The Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta):
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is a sea turtle and the only member of the genus Caretta. The genus name “Caretta” has been derived from the French word “caret”, meaning turtle, tortoise, or sea turtle. A loggerhead sea turtle grows up to 360 kilograms and 1 metre long. Their shell colour is a reddish brown colour, and the colour of their skin is brown yellow. The name of these turtles has been given to them as a result of their disproportionately big heads.
A loggerhead mainly feeds on bottom dwelling invertebrates. They eat horseshoe crabs, clams, mussels, and other invertebrates. Their powerful jaw muscles help them to easily crush the shellfish. During migration through the open sea, loggerheads eat jellyfishes, floating mollusks, floating egg clusters, squids and flying fishes.
The loggerhead sea turtle lives in areas such as bays, lagoons, salt marshes, creeks, ship channels, and the mouths of large rivers. Coral reefs, rocky places, and ship wrecks are places where you might find a feeding ground for loggerheads. Loggerheads nest on ocean beaches and on estuarine shorelines with suitable sand. They like to feed in coastal bays and estuaries, as well as in the shallow water along the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea):
Leatherback turtles follow the general shape similar to other sea turtles of having a large, dorsoventrally flattened, round body with two pairs of very large flippers and a short tail. Like other turtles, the leatherback’s flattened forelimbs are specially adapted for swimming in the open ocean. Claws are noticeably absent from both pair of flippers.
The leatherback’s flippers are the largest in proportion to its body among the various sea turtle species. Leatherback front flippers can grow up to 2.7 meters in large specimens, the largest flippers (even in comparison to its body) of any turtle. As the last surviving member of its family, the leatherback turtle has several distinguishing characteristics that differentiate it from other sea turtles. Its most notable feature is that it lacks the bony shell of the other extant sea turtles. Instead of the bony shell, the leatherback’s back is covered by its thick, leather skin with embedded minuscule bony plates. Seven distinct ridges arise from it’s back, running from the anterior-to-posterior margin of the turtle. The entire turtle’s dorsal surface is coloured dark grey to black with a sporadic scattering of white blotches and spots. In a show of counter shading, the turtle’s underside is lightly coloured.
Dermochelys coriacea adults average at around one to two meters long and weigh from around 250 to 700 kilograms. The largest ever found (on the West Coast of Wales) however was over three meters from head to tail and weighed more than 900 kilograms. Leatherback turtles can be found primarily in the open ocean. Scientists tracked a leatherback turtle that swam from Indonesia to the U.S. in an epic 20 000 kilometre journey over a period of 647 days as it searched for food. The turtles prefer deep water but are most often seen within sight of land. Feeding grounds have been determined to be closer to land, in waters barely offshore. Unusually for a reptile, leatherback turtles can survive and actively swim in colder waters; individual turtles have been found in waters as cold as 4.5°C.
Please enquire at the Reception of St. Lucia Safari Lodge or contact Shakabarker Tour Directly.
Telephone : +27 35 590 1162 Cell: +27 82 445 6462 Fax: +27 35 590 1070