Here are Soneva Jani we are privileged to act as a prime mating and nesting ground for Green and Hawksbill sea turtles…. and it is the season!
Recently, I had a very lucky morning, and encountered some turtles mating on the north side of the Island. Shortly after such mating events, female turtles can be sighted painstakingly making her way to the beach to lay her eggs. A female turtle will come back to the same beach that she was born on to make her nest, and will return multiple times during one season, laying more than 100 eggs each time. The turtle may ‘test’ the sand first, making multiple attempts at digging before she finds the ideal location to lay. Another benefit of creating ‘false’ nests, is to deter and confuse potential predators.
However, this craftiness of the nesting female makes monitoring the nests no easy feat! At Medhufaru Island, the ideal nesting location for the turtles is also the most difficult to reach… To monitor nests, we must wade through the sea, clamber over rocks and squeeze under tree branches.
Currently we have 10 known nests on the island… and the numbers are ever increasing! The eggs can take anywhere from 45 to 60 days to hatch, and the hatchlings are then faced with an arduous journey of clambering over the rocks, branches, avoiding predation by hungry crabs and seabirds, and finally escaping the pursuit of patiently awaiting sharks. Sadly, the natural survival rate of hatchlings is very low – as few as 1 in 100 will survive… and this is without human intervention…
Human threats to turtle hatchlings further lowers the survival rate, and include..
Direct poaching of eggs, obstacles on the beach, disorientation due to light pollution, and poaching of juveniles to be kept as pets.
Threats to juvenile and adult turtles include..
Direct Harvest, destruction of foraging grounds and mating grounds, plastic ingestion, boat strikes, tiger shark predation and by-catch in fishing gear.
The traits of a sea turtle’s life cycle mean that they are very vulnerable to population decline. The Green Sea Turtle is currently listed as Endangered under the IUCN Red-List, and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle as Critically Endangered. Turtles take a long time to reach maturity (20+ years), and then reproduce infrequently (every 1-3 years). Therefore, every attempt at nesting is incredibly important! For this reason, it is essential that we continue to monitor and record all nesting events at Soneva Jani.
Everyone can do their part to help the survival of sea turtles! Just follow a few simple guidelines:
- Reject the consumption of turtle eggs and meat and report those who do
- Report any suspicious activity to the marine biologist / your local authorities
- Remove any obstacles from the beach blocking the hatchlings path
- Do not keep hatchlings as pets, and report anyone who does
- Refuse products made from tortoiseshell
- Turn off lights in vicinity of the turtle nests
- Do not disturb mating/nesting turtles – only use red light, approach from behind, and stay well back from a nesting female
Our first hatchlings are expected to emerge within the next month – keep checking back here for more updates!
To discover more, please visit: www.soneva.com
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