Sea Turtle Nesting Habits Explained - We shed some light on one of the oceans biggest mysteries!

Sea Turtle Nesting Habits Explained -  We shed some light on one of the oceans biggest mysteries!

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 27th Jun 2017

It is an incredible experience, watching baby sea turtles some no bigger than your pinkie, acting upon some instinctive notion that as soon as they hatch, they must make it to the sea as fast as their little legs will carry them. Kinda hard to believe when they can ultimately grow up to 3 metres in length. Their mothers, long-gone by this point, will have buried their eggs deep into the sands in an attempt to protect her little ones from incoming tides and predators (and human poachers). The whole procedure is literally the epitome of survival.

Depending where you are in the world, sea turtles lay their eggs at contrasting times. In our Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka, for instance, the turtles start nesting in November through to April. However, the other side of the world at our Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Project, nesting season begins in August.

But what causes this enormous variance?

The Seasons

Turtle Conservation

It can be determinable simply by an area’s time of the year. Sea turtles nest on tropical beaches on nearly every ocean basin on earth, but most are susceptible to heat fluctuations, so the warmest months are typical nesting times for sea turtles. This doesn’t include the majestic Leatherback sea turtle as they like to be different; they prefer a cooler season for their nesting habits.

Breeding or Nesting Habits

After migrating thousands of miles throughout the year, when it is time to mate and nest, the female turtle starts to make her way towards her respective nesting beach. She can nest up to three times a season but of course this hinges on the accessibility of her choice of beach. This, therefore, suggests that there is a substantial risk that the eggs will not be buried in nests, and some cycles may be completely lost. ☹

Climate Change


Turtle Climate Change

It has been a global issue that is still in need of careful consideration, but as the sea levels rise, the sea turtle migration patterns change to devastating effect. It’s a phenomenon that the mother of the hatchlings always returns to her own “birth beach”, sometimes having travelled thousands of miles to get back there. However, with the rise of the sea level, the mother may not be able to create her nests on the same beaches due to higher tides, therefore losing a whole breeding cycle of eggs (between 500-1000 little potential turtles).

Five out of the seven sea turtle species in existence visit the coastlines of Sri Lanka to house their nests during the latter the months of the year, stretching to around April of the next. These are the driest months on the Sri Lankan calendar, so the weather is not a threat to the mother turtle, as Monsoon season and strong tide patterns become almost dormant. Our Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka is well-placed and on-hand to aid the protection of said nests, and oversee the wondrous hatching process.

On the Costa Rican Pacific coast, there are large spaces designated to turtle conservancies for the females to return and create their nests. It is so popular in fact, that the stretch of beach is affectionately named Tortuguero (Region of Turtles). Hawksbills, Loggerheads and Leatherbacks are seen here during their nesting seasons, and further out to sea during the mating seasons.

Turtle Swimming Through Water

It is easy to take our world’s marine life for granted, especially if you never have the chance to explore the depths of our oceans or even visit those sea turtle honeypots. But it is a major issue that these beautiful creatures are finding it harder and harder to continue their circles of life with distraction or interference. What we can do as the human race is continue to learn and educate others on the importance of sea turtles, and relay the unfairness that they continuously face in many parts of the world whilst simply trying to survive. Sea turtles are harmless but are being harmed at an alarming rate, so if you feel that you are the right person to be part of the help-force, check out our Turtle Volunteer Projects page and learn some more about these ancient creatures.

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