Puerto Rico: Home of the Leatherback

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Did you know that the Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest marine turtle in the world? It can measure between 6-7 feet and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, being the only sea turtle that has a rubbery carapace. They feed primarily on jellyfish, they have been in existence since the dinosaur’s period, and are considered endangered.

Leatherbacks lay eggs 3 to 8 times, in a period of 7 to 14 days between the months of February and August. During the breeding season Leatherback’s can lay up to 100 eggs, the ones closest to the surface are false (they have no embryos) making detection by predators difficult.

The Marine Env i ronmental Society Student Chapter, CESAM for its Spanish acronym, is a group of university students, majorly divers, that came together for the protection and conservation of marine resources. They are members of the Marine Environmental Society, a well known entity in Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean for their research and coral aquaculture projects.

This group, in company of other local movements, had the opportunity to presence a magical moment at Ocean Park beach, for a Leatherback hatching or Eclosion. Eclosion events occur around 60 days after nesting. On this particular day 62, hundreds of small turtles emerged from the sand in search of the sea.

Beware of the following rules when watching an eclosion: turn off the lights and do not take photos with flash to reduce hatchling disorientations, maintain a recommend distance and do not interfere with the natural process, and be silent. This experience serves as motivation and enthusiasm to help this and other species. Help us protect this marine species that provides charm to our beaches and the Caribbean! They are a component of our nature; that also grants us life!