Found off the coast of Maputaland, in the Zululand region of South Africa, the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles are the only two of a number of turtle species who breed in the warm coastal waters before laying their eggs on our shores.
The largest of the sea turtles, the Leatherback turtle ranges in length from 130 to 170 cm. Its shell has a ‘rubbery’ texture and is pliable with twelve distinct ridges making it distinctly different from the bony shell of other sea turtles. The turtle uses its powerful front flippers to glide through the water and can grow up to 2.7m in length – by far the largest when compared to any other sea turtle.
Females nest at high tide on moonless nights between November and February of every year. They lay between 6 and 9 clutches of eggs with each clutch containing approximately 100 to 120 eggs. After laying her eggs, the female carefully fills the nest, disguising it from predators with a scattering of sand.
The Loggerhead turtle is a large brown turtle. Its shell has scuttles which don’t overlap and are smooth. Different from the Leatherback turtle, these turtles’ limbs have claws. It feeds on crabs, mollusks and sea urchins and grows to around 70 to 100 cm in length. The female loggerhead lays up to 5 clutches of around 100 eggs each during the same period (November to February annually).
What an incredible honour it would be to witness this miracle of nature! Or perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to witness the hatching of the young turtles which takes place around 60 days after being laid. True to the miracle of nature, the youngsters all emerge simultaneously when they dig about 40cm to reach the surface of the sand before having to crawl about 60 meters to the surf. Sadly the survival rate is fewer than one in 500 as kingfishers and other predators await their arrival.
Thompsons Africa offers your guests an opportunity to witness this incredible experience.
St Lucia Turtle Tour (Half Day Tour)
Departs Daily on request from 17h30
Duration 6 – 7 Hours
(Operates Nov – Feb only)
In all likelihood, it’s once in a lifetime, so don’t even consider missing it. As the evening begins to fall, we set out on a quiet night drive on the beach to seek out, but never disturb, the leatherback and loggerhead turtles returning to their birthplace to lay their eggs; later in the season, we’re able to see the hatchlings making their desperate and dangerous dash for the ocean. Our evening expedition includes a night drive through the Eastern Shores Game Reserve, on to the beach, and – if all possible – a stealthy walk on the sand. We’ve packed our own refreshments and snacks, so it promises to be as convivial an evening as it’s likely to be thrilling. Watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7riKZfu_4tI
YOUR EXPERIENCE HIGHLIGHTS:
- Evening beach drive and walk
- Leatherback and Loggerhead viewing
- Evening game drive through Eastern Shores Game Reserve
- Snacks and refreshments
Visit the Thompsons Africa Customer Zone for more details on this once in a lifetime opportunity Day Tour http://zone.thompsonsafrica.com/day-tours/4