This blog post was originally written by Marcela Cañón, Marine Biologist MSC, Natural Resources Director. It originally appeared in the Bahia Beach Weekly.
The first leatherback turtle of the season came this week to nest at the Bahia Beach in front of the Plantation house of the St. Regis. This first nesting marks the initiation of the eighth season of close collaboration with the National Resources Department of Puerto Rico (DNER) for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. Each year during nesting season, from February to August, female leatherback turtles migrate back to tropical beaches where they themselves were hatched. Each female sea turtles nest every two years. During the last nesting season, twenty nine sea turtles nests were protected in the beach area. These amazing creatures are very vulnerable and their survival as a species largely depends on the action of humans. We are proud that our Soul of Bahia continues to partner with the DNER to insure the protection of the female turtles and the nests.
In Puerto Rico vandalism of the nests is a threat to the leatherbacks. The eggs are illegally used as a local delicacy believed to have aphrodisiac properties and the turtles are also hunted by some locals.
The eggs hatch usually during the night, and the hatchlings head directly into the water. This is reported to be the most dangerous time in a turtle’s life. As they walk, predators attack them and a significant percentage never makes it to the ocean. Hatching at Bahia is usually accompanied by casual volunteers lead by the natural resources officer to protect the turtles and assure that they can make it to the Ocean by not allowing predators to attack them. The hatchings become educational opportunities to residents, guest and staff of the resort. If you are interested in witnessing this miracle of nature contact Concierge to get inscribe in a list.