22 November 2012

South Africa/Mozambique: November to January is nesting season for sea turtles

The coastline stretching from 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 to the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in southern Mozambique is the only remaining major area in Africa where loggerhead and leatherback turtles are still laying their eggs between November and January of every year. The area the turtles are nesting in is part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which was born out of the Peace Park Foundation's vision to establish a network of transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa. The conservation area covers 4,195km² and links the Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique through the Futi Corridor and the Lubombo Conservancy in Swaziland to the Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa.

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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