This sea turtle is often seen in the warm Caribbean waters off the coast of Antigua. There are three species of turtle that nest on our beaches – Hawksbill, Green and Leatherback, with the Hawksbill being by far the most prolific. All sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water, only coming ashore to lay their eggs. These are deposited in a hole dug by the female, and whilst she is laying, her concentration becomes almost trance-like, allowing scientists to observe her behavior without fear of disturbing her. Once she has finished, she covers the eggs up and sets off back into the sea.
The hawksbill eggs take 60-65 days to hatch. The baby turtles dig their way out of the nest and immediately scurry towards the water: time is of the essence as a tender, new-born turtle is a tasty morsel for such predators as Frigatebirds – although as most babies hatch at night there is less danger. After a few days they make it to the Atlantic and attach themselves to drifts of sargassum until they are too big for predators to be a danger and then establish a home territory.
The only time they leave this territory is when the females return to exactly the same beach where they were born to start the reproductive cycle again. This homing instinct is really extraordinary and so far no complete explanation has been found.
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