Giant Leatherbacks Nesting at Mexico Turtle Camp
Last week four Leatherback turtles came ashore at our Tecoman Turtle camp to lay their eggs. Over the previous few weeks Leatherbacks have been making a regular appearance at the camp. Oliver Garcia, the Director of Campemento Tecoman fills us in on what’s been happening:
‘The eight species of marine turtles which were once abundant throughout the world’s oceans are now threatened and endangered due to poaching and pollution. The Leatherback is the most endangered of the marine turtles and breading populations are falling drastically. On one of the most important nesting beaches in Mexico there were 6,500 Leatherback nests recorded in 1986, but only 50 by 1993.
Volunteers on our conservation project have been working hard to protect the turtle nests and help stop their decline by controlling the 25km stretch of beach. Recently Leatherbacks have made many appearances at the camp and since November thirty nests have been collected on our night patrols. We are expecting this number to rise to anything from 60 to 100 throughout the year. The high numbers of Leatherbacks that appear on our shores make the turtle camp a particularly important nesting zone.
The Leatherback is the largest living turtle and is so distinctive that it is placed in its own separate family, the Dermochelys. All other sea turtles have bony hard plates on their shells (carapace). The Leatherback's carapace is slightly flexible and has a rubbery texture. No sharp angle is formed between the carapace and the under-belly (plastron) so a Leatherback is somewhat barrel shaped. And many grow bigger than a barrel too! They can grow up to 2m long and can weigh up to 1,400 pounds (636kg).
With Leatherbacks having been in this world seven times longer than humans, it is sad that we are the main reason for their decline. With the help of conservation volunteers and new initiatives we hope to guarantee that the incredible Leatherback turtle visits our beaches for many years to come.’