Leatherback turtles nest on the beach in Cabarete, Puerto Plata
Two leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), one of the four species that nest in the island of Dominican Republic, laid eggs in two nests on the beach in Cabarete, Puerto Plata , said the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARENA). It is expected that most of these animals come ashore to spawn. Technicians from the Coastal and Marine Resources Office inspected the Cabarete beach and found two nests separated by a distance of 800 meters apart and 10 meters high from the tide, which had been protected with a fence of wood and rope, placed by members of the community, the Navy, Politur and Ministry of Tourism.
Environmental technicians formed a protection committee, with all the materials needed to reinforce the perimeter of the nests as it is expected that more turtles arrive to this beach . The committee is composed of Jose Sanchez, coast inspector of the Dominican Navy and Miguel Gómez from Military Intelligence, Lorenzo Zancasani, Joseph A. Arias, Nelson Nivar, John Vine, Vine Celina, Christian Azar, Marino Peralta, the Cabarete beach vendors Association, among others, who will be in contact with the Directorate for Protection, Monitoring and Control of Marine and Coastal Resources to monitor these nests.
Back in May 2008 the leatherback turtles surprised the community of Cabarete by nesting in the beach , drawing media attention and soon becoming distinguished guests of the community. The leatherback turtle (tinglar in the Dominican Republic) is the Dermochelyidae family. In English is called Leatherback Turtle , in French Tortue Luth. It is the largest sea turtle and also more specialized. The front legs, transformed into broad flippers, have a wingspan of more than 3 m to a carapace length of 2 m and a weight exceeds 500 kg. The hind legs, short and broad, reminiscent of the seals, and are attached to the short tail with a leathery expansion.
But the most striking character of the leatherback turtle is its shell, which consists of small independent bone flakes, covered with a thick skin. The shell has a rubber texture, about 4 cm thick and is made up of strong connective tissue saturated with oil. The young are covered with small scales, which resemble those of many lizards, but are shed with age. They are mostly black on the back but the fins have white margins, and have lines of white scales along the back. On average, measuring about 61.3mm long and weighing 45.8 g. Leatherbacks travel much greater distances in the ocean than the other marine turtles . It is assumed that in one year, they migrate from South America to the northeastern United States and then return to their starting point.
The leatherback forages in cold waters, able to withstand temperatures of 6 º C – 15 ° C. It has also been recorded that this turtle can reach up to 1200 m below sea level and at that depth, water temperature is rarely above 5 º C, even in tropical regions. Unlike almost all living reptiles, leatherback is endothermic, maintaining a body temperature of around 25 º C. They feed mainly on pelagic invertebrates such as jellyfish and tunicates, pelagic crustaceans and juvenile fish.
A kind of rear-facing spines that are in the throat, help them to swallow jellyfish. The main nesting beaches are on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. They also spawn in smaller amounts in Veracruz, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Windward and Leeward Islands and Guyana.
The main threats facing the leatherback vary from one region to another but can be summarized in:
– Habitat loss, due to the marketing of tropical beaches (especially tourism) and industrialization.
– By catch by fishing nets, causing it to suffocate.
– Pollution caused by industry in tropical waters and heavy industry in cold waters used for migration.
– Human predation: In many countries, the leatherback population is threatened by uncontrolled harvesting of their eggs. This is due to various cultural beliefs in relation to eggs.
In several countries, the leatherback turtle is hunted for food. For example, in the Kei Islands (southwest of New Guinea, Maluku Province of Indonesia), leatherback turtles are regularly hunted as a food source.
Cabarete beach is world famous for its windy bay that attracts Wind and Kite surfing enthusiasts all year long from all over the world. Golden Treasures Real Estate and Rentals is dedicated to promoting eco tourism and the protection of all marine species in the North coast in order to preserve this legacy for present and future generations.
With the constant growth in the villa rental and real estate market of the area, it`s imperative that strict guidelines are enforced in order to protect all natural habitats for the marine species such as the Dermochelys coriacea, also called Tinglar and Laud turtle .
Trips from Sosua and Puerto Plata should be arranged to the nesting site in order to show children and adults some awereness and respect for nature. Also, people at Cabarete beach must know to make silence when the hatchlings come out, so they can hear the ocean sounds and guide their first trip to the water more efficiently.
It is believed that turtles rely on ocean sound and vibration ( some say they also use magnetic poles orientation too ) to find the way to the ocean after cracking the eggs. Also, no need to touch and cause stress to these beautiful animals.