March marks the beginning of turtle season in Dominica, and we are pleased to share there has already been lots of turtle activity.
In preparation for this season, we’ve been very attentive with our beach clean-up. We’ve even had guests volunteer to help remove driftwood and seaweed from our beach! This year is off to a strong start, and 2016’s early success is likely attributed to our clear, clean beach.
On March 16, we spotted the first signs of the season. Tracks were made overnight by a turtle that could have attempted to nest. However, the tracks were very close to the ocean, indicating a “false crawl.” A false crawl occurs when a turtle returns to the safety of the water, without digging a nest or without laying eggs.
One week later, on March 23, the first leatherback of the season was spotted! The mom nested on our beach, and guests were called to witness the ritual.
March 31 proved to be another eventful night with two leatherbacks arriving on our beach! We had another “false crawl,” where one turtle quickly returned to the water. However, after much anticipation, the other leatherback finally nested!
Over the next few weeks, moms continued to nest on our beach. It often takes two hours for the turtle to carefully choose the spot to dig her nest, which is usually about 70 cm deep. She meticulously alternates her back flippers, as sand is slowly moved aside.
Although the holes are more than 2 feet deep, nearly every nest will be washed away with the current. Our turtle experts and patrollers carefully detect releases, collect the eggs and relocate them to safety. Out of 1,000 laid eggs, only one will develop into an adult.
Three species of endangered sea turtles – the leatherback, green and hawksbill – normally arrive on our beach throughout the season. Interestingly, only leatherbacks have nested on our beach this year. By the end of April, we’ve had 17 leatherbacks nest, and all eggs have been relocated to the hatchery.
Guests are not only invited to witness these amazing rituals, but they can also participate in our conservation efforts. Guests can help patrol the beach to protect nesting turtles, aid researchers in collecting data or relocate nests that are too close to the ocean. During your stay, you can also sign up for our special “wake-up calls,” so you’ll be alerted when any turtle activity is occurring!
We’re excited our turtle season is off to such a busy start! Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on turtle activity.