Our favorite guests at Hatchet Caye, the Sea Turtles!
The Sea Turtles that inhabit the waters off of Hatchet Caye are beautiful and graceful. Not exactly what you picture when you think of a turtle lumbering slowly along on land, right? Well when they are immersed in their natural habitat they become the ballerinas of the deep. The turtles in this video appear to be dancing together in the turtle ballet.
The patterns and scales and beak of a turtle are crucial in identifying it’s species. While snorkeling or diving at Hatchet Caye snap a picture of your turtle friends and use this guide to identify them.
The Hawksbill Turtle is the most plentiful species in Belize. Once hunted for the making of tortoise shell jewelry they can be distinguished by 4 pairs of overlapping lateral scutes and their hawkish looking beak (hooked at the end for cracking into shells). They love to eat sea sponges! Especially the loggerhead sponge which you would think would be for the loggerhead turtle.
The Green Sea Turtles are vegetarians and named after the color of their fatty meat! It is green in color due to the amount of sea grass they consume. Christopher Columbus once said that they were once so numerous that they covered the seas! This species is the 2nd largest weighing over 500lbs. They have four pairs of lateral scutes and a single pair of prefrontal scales. Difference is a white line separating the scutes.
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is the least commonly found in Belize. If you see a large one be sure to get a picture! During the March mating season many males can be seen searching for their new loves. They may take a good look at you but don’t worry, once they figure out you are not Mrs. Right they will move on. The most noticeable way to know if it is a logger head is by well, IT’S LARGE HEAD! lol. Even their baby hatchlings have huge heads! They also have five pairs of lateral scutes.
The Leatherback Sea Turtles are the hardest to spot in Belize. They nest in neighboring countries and we are hoping they will soon call our shores home too. Their name comes from the fact that they are the only sea turtle to have a soft (ish) shell. They don’t worry so much about armor because they are also the largest of all sea turtles known to weigh up to a ton! Imagine an 8ft long mammoth of a turtle swimming by, I don’t think you will have a problem spotting that.
Both the Olive Ridley Turtle and the Kemp’s Ridley turtle have not been officially confirmed in Belize. So if you spot one snap its pic and tell the world. They are small and rare with a round and oval shell respectively. They nest in Mexico so it is highly likely that they will be confirmed in our waters.
Turtles live longer than any other animal, including man! Some survive more than 150 years! The Leatherback Sea Turtle can weigh as much as 1.500lbs! They are the only reptiles armed with a shell yet completely lacking teeth! Sea Turtles have been hunted and eaten by man for many years and, because of this, their numbers have dwindled and they are now in danger of extinction. They have been around for over 200,000,000 years and are the oldest living reptiles with members of it’s species alive today. Man has tried it’s hardest to wipe them out and now man and woman are trying harder to bring their numbers back. Here at Hatchet Caye we are thankful that so many turtles nest on our shores and we do our best to protect the little ones on their first march into the sea.< Back