Experience the Wonder of Sea Turtle Hatchings at Coconut Bay
by / Wednesday, 18 November 2015 / Published in Activities

It is hard to fathom any creature going extinct, especially one that has been on Earth for more than 150 million. Sadly, that’s the fate several species of sea turtles currently face. With the threat of extinction looming, the birth of these endangered creatures is something to celebrate now more than ever. Home to three different species of sea turtles, St. Lucia and Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa are fortunate enough to serve as a birthplace for these fascinating reptiles. Bearing witness to their miraculous births is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

About Turtle-Hatching Season

Of the four species of sea turtles that nests on the beaches of St. Lucia, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has classified two as endangered (Loggerhead and Green turtle), one as vulnerable (Leatherback) and one as critically endangered (Hawksbill.) Sea turtles are clearly very special, and their births, even more so. A marvel to behold, the sea turtle hatchings take place on St. Lucia’s beaches every year from March through November. The beaches near our resort are regularly the site of this momentous event.

During turtle-hatching season, Coconut Bay partners with local organizations and staff to monitor turtle nests. We also invite our guests (when possible) to attend and supervise the hatchings and releases into the ocean. The sea turtles’ dwindling population can use all the help it can get — the average survival rate of a hatchling is a mere 10 percent. In fact, in an effort to sustain the sea turtles, the island of St. Lucia has passed several laws promoting their conservation, including laws against interfering with nesting activity.

Meet the Sea Turtles of St. Lucia

Of the seven existing species of sea turtles, three hatch on St. Lucia’s shores: the Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green turtle. We’ve also had a few sightings of the Loggerhead species in our waters farther north, but they are extremely rare.

Leatherbacks

The Leatherback, the largest of the species, can grow to an astonishing length of more than six feet and a weight more than a ton. This is a far cry from their size and weight at birth. Leatherback hatchlings are just two or three inches long, have front flippers as long as their bodies, and have distinctive white stripes on their back ridges.

While Leatherbacks nest in tropical areas, they may migrate as far north as Canada during other months. Unlike other turtles’ shells, the Leatherback’s shell isn’t plated. Instead, their shells are a single unit with five vertical ridges. Typically, Leatherbacks nest from March through August.

Hawksbill Turtles

The colorful Hawksbill species is smaller, reaching lengths of 3.5 feet and weights of up to 180 pounds. When Hawksbills hatch, they weigh just a half an ounce and have a one- or two-inch, heart-shaped carapace, or shell. You can probably guess how the Hawksbill got its name — the front of these turtles’ faces closely resembles a beak, or bill. That feature coupled with their pointy heads and V-shaped, toothless jaws make them look like hawks, accounting for the other half of their name.

These turtles have a distinctive tortoiseshell pattern on their carapace that is so attractive that they were hunted for their shells almost to extinction. The peak hatching season for Hawksbills is May through October.

The Green Turtle

The seagrass- and seaweed-eating Green turtle grows up to three feet long and 350 pounds. Because their carapaces can be several colors — including yellow, black, green, brown, and gray — their appearances are remarkably diverse. When they are born, though, they are either all dark brown or mostly black. Green turtles are the only herbivorous species of sea turtle. Interestingly, they are carnivores as babies but become herbivores once they grow to eight to ten inches. Hatching season for Green turtles is April through September.

Tips for St. Lucia Sea-Turtle-Lovers

There are published guidelines available geared toward protecting the island’s sea turtles.

  • Generally, you should always look out for sea turtles, especially when boating. Sea turtles can be seriously injured or killed by boating activities.
  • Similarly, watch out for them as you walk along the shore or beach. It is quite easy to accidentally trample on an egg or hatchling. Take care that you don’t surprise the turtles, either. Approaching — especially when turtles are eating, resting or sleeping — is threatening to them.
  • When taking pictures of sea turtles, be extremely careful not to use a flash. The flash from cameras can startle and send them back to the ocean, or even temporarily blind them. In both cases, nesting activity is likely to be disrupted. The hatchlings too are very sensitive to light.
  • When you’re on the beach during nesting season, don’t barbeque or light fires. If you can’t find a designated fire pit, make sure the fire is away from the nesting area so that the turtles aren’t affected.
  • Keep animals away too. Apart from startling the turtles, they might also injure or destroy eggs and hatchlings.
  • Never touch the hatchlings. If you see an exposed nest or a turtle that appears to be hurt, or if there is any threat of danger, contact the local environmental agency.
  • Join us This Hatching Season

    Coconut Bay teaches kids the importance of protecting the sea turtles and their nests through the CocoLand SCOUTS program. We will also share fun tips and facts about how experts estimate when hatchlings will emerge and head back toward the ocean.

    During the day, our guests can witness firsthand the hatching and releasing process on our shores. It is an amazing experience that can be appreciated by everyone! Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa invites you to share this unforgettable experience with us as we do our part in sustaining the lives of these incredible sea creatures.

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