Thursday, September 17, 2009

Turtles Turtles Turtles

Photo by Susan Rust National Geographic

Good news on the local turtle front! Tuesday night the first nest of Leatherback turtles in 20 years hatched. A hatch is described as "boiling sand." As the turtles hatch and dig their way out of the nest the sand looks like boiling water. The turtles then head for the light of the moon which is suppose to take them to the ocean. With all the development if it is a moonless or cloudy night then the lights of civilization can disorient them and they will head away from the ocean and meet certain death.

On Tuesday night there was no moon, there has been great anticipation of this hatch so the nest has been watched pretty continuous. As the 120 hatchlings hatched a "moon" was designated to lead the hatchlings to the sea. A lantern is set above someone's head and they walk backward to the ocean leading the turtles.

The Leatherback turtle is the fourth largest reptile in the world. They range about six feet by six feet and weigh up to 2000 pounds. There carapace is soft which makes for problems when they encounter propellers and boats. These are incredible creatures. We are so proud to have had a nest here in eastern North Carolina.

Mother Leatherback laying her eggs. This photo is from the Brian Skerry.


Tammy said...

I'm sure the surrogate moon was quite proud to be of service! Isn't nature amazing - 2000 pounds?!

Sharon said...

How wonderful! Thanks for all the info too. I wish I could have seen this all happen. Sharon

Amy said...

awww, sweet turtle's ....