Our migrating leatherback sea turtles are back in our South Carolina waters! I have seen several popping up for air off the coast of our Edisto beaches. I have been getting a lot of questions at our nature center about the jellyfish washing up as well. The picture below is a cannonball jellyfish, a favourite food item of the leatherback sea turtles.
The next time you are at the beach take a look to see if you can spot one of the sea turtles popping up for air - if you are lucky you may see it's enormous shell as well! The leatherback sea turtles can reach a length of 7 ft. and weigh over 2000 lbs. They are the largest sea turtle species and as you may have guessed they have a leathery-type shell. They do not have a hard shell like the other sea turtle species. This is because they dive really deep in the ocean and their leathery shell is able to deal with the pressure changes.
I saw my first nesting leatherback when I went to Trinidad. It was such an amazing sight! One of the turtles we saw was tagged in Canada. The leatherbacks will migrate all the way up to Halifax, Nova Scotia. There is a sea turtle program in Halifax that tags the sea turtles out in the ocean - I may need to go and check this out sometime!
The leatherbacks we are seeing off the coast are on their northward migration!
How cool is that?!
Sea Turtle Biologist