The Graceful Sea Turtles of Puerto Rico
For those who have had the fortune to dive with sea turtles, you have truly witnessed one of nature’ most graceful offerings. These ancient creatures move through the water with an effortless gait that can only be described as amazing.
The three most common found off the coast of Puerto Rico are the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles. The juveniles live and feed on the coral reefs and sea grass beds that surround the island. Females will come onto the beach every couple of years to nest their eggs in the sands and tall grasses that line the coastal sands. Over the years, the populations for these three species of turtle have declined greatly.
In the early part of the 20th century, they were hunted for their oils and eggs, which provided the native people of Puerto Rico with sustenance. In the 1920’s the use of the tortoise shell in jewellery came into vogue and during this time one could walk the beaches and encounter many naked carcasses of the sea turtle lining the sand. As the shell was the only item wanted from the turtle, the hunter had no use for the rest of the animal. Fortunately, this type of hunting has been banned and the populations are steady at this time. Now the great threat is from the building that has swept the coastline, the introduction of domestic animals, boating and off-road vehicles that run over nests and leave tracks that the hatchlings are unable to navigate on their way to the sea.
As we search for a better life for our family, at times we need to take in consideration the families of nature and proceed with caution and respect. The sea turtle is a truly magnificent animal and should be enjoyed for its grace for many years to come.