Turtle Beach

19/03/2014 15:53

Written by Mike Stead and Sean Rorison

Olive ridley turtle by S M FlickrOlive ridley turtle © S M, Flickr

The beach below the Miradouro da Lua is an important nesting site for endangered olive ridley turtles. Little is known about turtles in Angolan waters but the Agostinho Neto University in Luanda has set up a turtle-tracking study on the beach. There are limited opportunities to get involved in an annual turtle-tracking weekend and details are posted on the website of the Angola Field Group. Turtles live in deep water – anywhere between 1,000m and 2,000m, and come ashore in groups to lay and bury their eggs in holes that they dig with their flippers. Each nest could contain between 100 and 130 eggs. The nesting season runs between September and March and peaks between November and January. The baby turtles hatch a couple of months later, always at night when the temperature is lower. The university marks each turtle nest with an empty plastic water bottle stuck on a pole in the sand. Nest density here is about 32 nests/km², but further south density for other types of turtles can get as high as 160/km². Only one in every 1,000 baby turtles makes it to adulthood – many are picked off by crabs, jackals and seabirds as soon as they are born and before they can reach the relative safety of the sea. Humans are also a threat – poachers catch them for the meat and also to sell the shells. Others are caught up in fishing nets.

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