Imagine you’re the only individual walking on a pristine beach… all of a sudden a huge, dark object emerges from the ocean, which, upon closer inspection materialises into an enormous female leatherback turtle…
This is what Rocktail guest Valerie experienced yesterday at 6.00pm! She was able to spend an hour quietly watching this amazing animal with not one other human being in sight, just her and the turtle.
Valerie’s sighting has bought much joy for all of us at Rocktail as our dedicated turtle guides have been seeing the tracks of these majestic leatherbacks, but this is our first confirmed sighting of this species for the season.
I wonder if Valerie cried, as so many people do when witnessing this life-affirming phenomenon…
With turtle season upon us, and loggerheads and leatherbacks coming ashore to lay, we have implemented our strict turtle drive regulations where only one vehicle is allowed on the beach per day to view the turtles, thereby minimising any unnecessary stress.
Which makes Valerie’s sighting even more of a ‘life list’ experience!
The Maputaland Sea Turtle Project was implemented in 1963 to monitor nesting females on Rocktail’s beaches every season, and to protect the beaches from poachers and other disturbances. Via our passionate and highly experienced turtle guides Gugulethu Mathenjwa and Mbongeni Myeni, Rocktail Camp runs the project under the supervision of legendary turtle conservationist Dr George Huges.
We are delighted to note that both these turtle populations on Rocktail’s coastline are actually growing and are the only loggerheads and leatherback populations in the world to do so.
It is very important for our guides to be around while the females are laying their eggs and when the babies hatch and make their way back to the ocean, to ensure they are protected from predators and poachers.
By Natalie Gouws, GM Rocktail Camp