Leather-back Sea Turtle
Watching in Trinidad
...one of the world's most important
leatherback nesting sights
Leather-back sea turtle watching in Trinidad gives you the chance to travel back, to a time before dinosaurs and witness a struggle for survival that's been going on for over 220 million years.
You're here to watch these leviathans of the deep, these gentle sea monsters, heave their way onto the steep, secluded, heavy surfed, loose sanded beaches of Trinidad and Tobago's Atlantic coasts, to witness an event that's almost as old as time itself.
It's truly amazing when you stand beside and even touch one of these ancient mariners, when in a trance like state they lay they lay their eggs on one of Trinidad and Tobago's many turtle nesting beaches.
These are giant sea going turtles 6 foot long and weighing up to 2,000 lbs, who once shared the Triassic and Cretaceous seas with Pliosaurs and other aquatic dinosaurs. Endangered sea turtles who today migrate as far north as Nova Scotia and as far east as the African coast in search of their favorite food, jellyfish.
Trinidad is one of the most important lather-back sea turtle nesting sights in the world.
During peak season some beaches report up to 300 nesting leatherbacks in a single night. It's estimated that approximately 20 percent of the world's leather-back sea turtle population is of Trinidadian ancestry.
Sea Turtle Facts
Leather-back sea turtles are more evolutionarily advanced than all other sea turtles alive today.
They have no vestigial claws on their flippers, and their shells are covered in a thick layer of fat and skin, which help insulate them in Arctic waters. Along their backs run vertically aliened ridges that help streamline these reptilian super-tankers, who dive deeper than most whales, to depths of over 2,000 feet. More sea turtle facts...
These living dinosaurs can stay underwater for up to an hour, and eat their body weight in jellyfish each day, which is a good thing because warming seas have resulted in huge jellyfish swarms that endanger popular bathing beaches around the world.
Sea Turtle Nurseries
It's also amazing when you witness leather-back sea turtle hatchlings, newborn babies about the size of a young teenagers hand, as they scamper down the beach early on a cool Caribbean morning, and slip away into the tumbling surf to make their way seaward into an environment that is becoming increasingly hazardous to their health, making it extremely difficult for them to survive until adulthood.
Only 1 in 1,000 will return to Trinidad's beaches.
Leather-back sea turtles nest every 2 to 3 years, returning up to 6 times a nesting season to deposit broods of between 80-100 tennis-ball size sea turtle eggs on each visit, 70% of which will hatch in between 60-70 days, just prior to dawn.
But many things can go wrong. Inexperienced females sometimes fail to lay their eggs above high water mark, lights on the beach scare nesting turtles away, and nest sand can become compacted from too much foot traffic, so conservation efforts are ongoing to reduce man's impact on these wonderful creatures.
Endangered Sea Turtles
There are many beaches where you can happen upon a nesting leather-back sea turtle.
From the easily accessed beaches of Maracas, Las Cuevas, and Blanchisseuse to the more secluded beaches of Paria, Pitit Tacarib, Grande Tacarib and Madamas on the North Coast; to Matelot, Big Bay in San Souci, and Guayamara in the Toco area...
There's also Fishing Pond and Manzanilla in eastern Trinidad; and Black Rock, Turtle Beach and Englishman's Bay in Tobago.
But the best places to see nesting leatherbacks in Trinidad and Tobago is on the protected and quiet beaches of Matura and Grande Riviere.
Matura Beach Turtle Watching
Matura Beach caters mostly to Trinidadians, who flock there in their thousands to go turtle watching; and to international volunteers who journey here each sea turtle nesting season to help measure and tag turtles in an ongoing effort organized by the award winning local conservation group Nature Seekers.
Here visiting researchers and volunteers stay for 2-week periods in local homes, boosting the local economy and encouraging conservation efforts.
Grande Riviere Beach
For casual visitors Grande Riviere is the better location to witness this spectacle. There are several small hotels right on the beach that cater to visiting tourists and locals alike.
During sea turtle watching season, there are regular eco tours to Grande Riviere from your Port-of-Spain hotel, which makes going turtle watching easy and convenient. Early reservations are highly recommended as the small hotels get booked up quickly, especially on weekends.
There is also the added attraction of Toco's dramatic beach scenery on the drive up to Grande Riviere, and the opportunity to visit the Trinidad Piping Guan, or Pawi, one of Trinidad's endangered endemic birds.
Visiting Helps the Local Economy
For a child, this can be the adventure of a lifetime. Getting to stay up into the wee hours of the night, walking along a dark beach under a star filled Caribbean night sky, and witnessing the 1½ to 2 hour dramatic nesting ritual of the giant leatherbacks.
And what's more, when you go leather-back sea turtle watching in Trinidad and Tobago you help the local economies, encourage conservation, and ensure the survival of these modern day dinosaurs.
Best Time to Visit
March through August is turtle watching season, but the best time to visit is during April to July, peak nesting season. We highly recommend leather-back sea turtle watching tours, for which you'll need to wear warm dark colored clothing, long pants, and tennis shoes. And don't forget your insect repellent.
Here are some important sea turtle facts, and more about turtle nursery conservation and turtle watching in Trinidad.
Trinidad and Tobago Vacations
While you're on vacation in Trinidad, why not take the opportunity to meet some of its other weird and wonderful beasties? Endangered animals like the West Indian Manatee, or sea cow (a distant relative of the elephant), or a tree sloth from the Nariva & Bush-Bush Wildlife Sanctuary. Related Topics... Visit the Asa Wright Nature Center Trinidad's Tropical Tree Frogs Visit Trinidad and go hiking to Avocat FallsTrinidad and Tobago Tours Suggested Topics... Sunday lime at Maracas Beach Beachcombing at Manzanilla Beach Beautiful Blanchisseuse Beach Untamed Trinidad Beaches like PariaThe Dramatic Beach Scenery of TocoPretty Beaches like Englishman's Beach GO TO Options... TOP of Leather-back Sea Turtle WatchingBack to Adventure and Eco Tours TrinidadHOME PAGE