Seven species of sea turtle occur around the world. Of these, three species (possibly four) occur in the seas around St Lucia. These are the Green Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle and the Leatherback turtle, (and the Loggerhead Turtle). Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the ocean although the females come up every year to lay their eggs on the island’s sandy beaches. After about 60 days from laying, the babies (or hatchlings) head directly for the sea.
Upon reaching maturity they will return, usually to the beach where they were born, to deposit their eggs. They may lay more than once during a season.
Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
This turtle can be recognized by its round smooth carapace plates which do not overlap. Its beak is usually round and blunt with saw-like edges. It feeds mainly on seagrasses.
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
This species is distinguished by a narrow pointed beak. The scales of the carapace overlap and are usually a mixture of brown, gold, and yellow.
Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
This is the largest turtle in the world and weighs up to 600 kg. It can achieve a carapace length of over l60cm. It is usually black in colour with a mottled black and white underside. Its shell is leathery and raised into seven prominent ridges. Eats jellyfish.
Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
The occurrence of this species in St Lucia has not been confirmed although there have been reports of sightings at sea. It can be recognized by its large head and tapered carapace. They feed on crabs, fish, molluscs and marine plants.