27 February 2013

Tanzania: The Way Turtles Live

IF you ever have the chance to go to Nungwi tourists' destination in North Zanzibar, make sure you visit the Mnarani Sea Turtles aquarium. They are some of the oldest creatures on the face of the Earth, they are beautiful and move so gracefully, almost like they own the oceans.

Some tourists, children and members of MMTCP say, if you ever have the chance to help move a sea turtle nest or to watch a nest hatch and crawl to the ocean, take that opportunity. It is something that is only done once in a lifetime, something most people never get a chance to do. Sea Turtles only lay their eggs on the beach.

The female turtle will swim onto the beach at high tide usually during the hottest part of the summer. She will dig a pit into the beach to lay her eggs. Then she will dig a chamber for the eggs at the bottom of that pit. There she will lay between 50 and 200 eggs. She will cover them up and leave them to fend for themselves.

As far as protecting the nest, turtle moms usually choose their nest sites carefully, but still the eggs and new born turtles are in danger. The incubation period for a turtle egg varies because there are different types. The weather also can affect the incubation period. Painted turtles' incubation period is about 76 days, but the weather can affect the time.

Snapping turtles can hatch in 50-60 days, but, again, it depends on the weather. These two kinds of turtles eggs won't ever hatch if they're laid in the water. A tortoise's egg will hatch in 8-11 weeks, but sometimes can take as long as 18 weeks, if it is cold! It typically takes 30-90 days for an African side Necked Turtles eggs to hatch.

It all depends on the ground temperature as these eggs are buried a bit below the surface by the mother to keep them safe. The female turtles use both their front and rear flippers to dig into the sand. It can take some time, but those flippers can move a lot of sand at the same time. They are extremely strong from moving that large heavy body through the waters of the ocean.

When they are done laying their eggs, they will climb out of the hole and use those same flippers to push sand back over the hole they created to lay eggs in.

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