08 February 2012

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Leatherback turtle laying eggs on the beach at night (video)

The coastline of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, known for Lake St. Lucia, Cape Vidal and the famous diving spot Kosi Bay, in South Africa's northern KwaZulu Natal province is the only remaining major nesting site where Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles still lay their eggs in Africa.

The critically endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles are coming to lay their eggs in the dunes there between November and January. It’s believed only 4 in every 1000 turtle hatchlings actually survives to maturity.
Leatherback turtles are the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth largest modern reptile. They can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Leatherbacks are usually 120-185cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. The largest ever found however was over 3 meters from head to tail and weighed 920kg. Loggerhead turtles are the world's largest hard-shelled turtles, measuring up to 213cm long when fully grown.

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