Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2014 Contents A43
Our islands beautiful beaches play host to nest-
ing marine turtles between 1st March and 31st Au-
gust annually. During this period hundreds of
hikers and conservationists trek to the coastal re-
gions of Trinidad and Tobago to watch (and guard)
endangered turtles while they lay their eggs. In To-
bago, The Black Rock area, Turtle Beach, Grafton
Beach and Black Bay are all prime beaches for
sightings of Hawksbills and Greenback turtles. If
you are interested in turtle watching expedition, be
advised that this season attracts a large crowd; so
make sure that you've made reservations in ad-
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQs) and their responses courtesy Saving Our Tur-
tles (SOS) Tobago, that are critical in making your
trip an educational experience.
Why do nesting turtles "cry"?
Nesting sea turtles appear to shed tears, but in
fact these salty secretions are the turtles' way of rid-
ding their body of excess salt consumed at sea. All
sea turtles "cry," whether they are on land or in the
sea. It's an important part of their physiology.
How many eggs does a sea turtle lay?
This varies from species to species but on average
a sea turtle will lay approximately 100 -- 150 eggs
each time she nests.
How often do sea turtles nest?
Sea turtles nest once every 2 to 3 years. When it is
a turtles' "nesting" year, hard-shelled species like the
hawksbill or green turtle will deposit an average of 4 -
5 nests in 12 -- 14 day intervals. The leatherback can
deposit an average of 6 -- 10 nests at 10 to 12 day in-
tervals. The amount of nests is dependent on the
species, age/size of the turtle. The larger/older the
turtle the more eggs she is able to store inside her.
Do the male sea turtles ever come ashore?
No. Once the male hatchlings emerge from their
nest they head to the sea and remain there for the
rest of their lives. The only time we might see a male
is prior to nesting season when they mate with the
females, close to the nesting beaches but still at sea.
Why are sea turtles on the "endangered" and
"critically endangered" list?
Because the worldwide populations has declined
so rapidly in the last 50 -- 100 years.
Why is that?
There are a number of reasons why sea turtle pop-
ulations have declined at such a rapid rate:
• Over harvesting for shells meat and eggs by hu-
• Loss of habitat due to coastal development and
• Boat strikes and collisions with pleasure craft
suck as jet skis.
• Pollution in our oceans such as oil slicks, sewage
and other chemicals can make turtles sick.
• Plastic bags in the water look like jellyfish to a
turtle, if they eat it, the plastic bag is non-di-
gestible and will stick in their throats or block
their intestines, cause them to suffocate or
slowly starve to death.
• One of the biggest threats is 'incidental by catch
in fishing gear where turtles often become snared
or entangled in nets and since they need to sur-
face periodically to breathe they end up drowning.
How long do sea turtles live?
It is thought that sea turtles have a lifespan similar
to human beings, so around 75 -- 100 years. However,
due to the extreme conditions they now face (men-
tioned above) it is doubtful that many live that long.
Why do the turtles nest in
Trinidad and Tobago?
The turtles that nest here were born in T&T. Most
turtles always return to their beach of birth to lay
their eggs. Some turtles like the leatherback, travel to
colder regions such as Canada, but they must return
to tropical & subtropical beaches to nest as they pro-
vide the warm sand necessary for the incubation of
their eggs. The temperature of the sand determines
the sex of the hatchlings. If the sand is cooler it will
produce more male hatchlings. If it is warmer, we get
How do you know the difference between a
male and a female?
Mature male turtles have a distinguishable tail that
extends well beyond the end of the carapace (shell),
but it is virtually impossible to tell the difference at
the juvenile stage by sight.
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