Laying eggs

Female turtles usually breed every two to three years. Over the course of a nesting season they generally nest three to five times. Their inter-nesting period is of two weeks. It is fun and quite amazing to watch a turtle lay her eggs.

After the turtle is done digging her nest, she places one flipper on each side of the nest and starts laying her eggs. Throughout the laying process, the turtle is in a trans-like state. It is very unique to be able to be so close to a wild animal and to witness such an event. Of course, you want to minimize the impact of your presence so you have to be very discrete and always remain behind the turtle.

The turtle lays her eggs by ones, twos, and threes. If you pay close attention to her flippers, you can see her contractions and predict when the eggs are going to fall. The eggs are like ping-pong balls in size and shape. They are soft, so as not to break when falling in the nest. Loggerhead turtles usually lay between 50 and 150 eggs. I’ve tried to capture the process in the video below.

Once the turtle is done nesting, she carefully covers up her nest with sand and compacts the sand with her rear flippers. This ensures that when the hatchlings come out of the eggs, they can climb to the surface of the sand (the compacted sand can support them). She then spends another 10 to 20 minutes camouflaging her nest, trying to make it inconspicuous to predators such as crabs. She flicks sand around with both her front and rear flippers and smoothens out the nesting area. The camouflage isn’t fool proof: it is quite obvious where she nested because of the freshly turned sand. It is, however, very difficult to know exactly where the egg chamber is located.

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