Matura Beach/Fishing Pond
|Both are good places for leatherback turtle watching.|
Time: variable depending on how well the turtles cooperate. It could be most of a night. Difficulty: 1 if you're well rested; 5+ if you need sleep. Trailhead: Located on the east coast.
These two sites are prime turtle watching spots from about mid-April to July when the world's largest marine turtles come ashore at night to deposit their eggs.
These are the giant leatherbacks, which may weigh as much as 1,200 pounds. The carapace, often more than six feet in length, is distinguished by its longitudinally ridged shell which looks like leather stretched tight over a frame. It is colored a dark bluish gray and spotted with white.
At night during the nesting season, leatherbacks come ashore and lay their eggs just above the high water mark. After digging a hole about 3 feet deep, the female deposits between 70 to 120 billiard-sized eggs, which she then covers and conceals.
The female returns to the sea, but her nesting is far from over. Leatherbacks may nest up to 8 times in a season, at intervals of about every 10 days. The turtles hatch in about 60 days and head straight for the sea.
For many years it wasn't known where baby leatherbacks went but recent research shows many find their way to the Sargasso Sea.
Turtle eggs are protected by law, although they are occasionally still poached. Asa Wright Nature Centre conducts turtle watching tours in season.