On our last night at Lady Musgrave, we joined Gary and Annie from Chances and went ashore for our sundowners. We set up our own turtle watching station, out of the wind, on the western side of the island. There was 14 knots of wind blowing so we knew we were going to get wet going back but who cares! This was an opportunity to maybe see nature really at work. There were many fresh turtle tracks from the previous nights, so we knew the nesting had begun and the island caretakers confirmed this.
But first some of photos swimming with a very friendly turtle (twice) …
And from my kayak and dinghy in the shallows …
So we took our four chairs (and even a table), some food and wine, to watch the sun set and hopefully see a green female turtle nesting. We spotted many turtles on the water’s edge, hoping that one would come ashore. There was much anticipation. It was dark and difficult to see without lights (torch light disturbs them). After some time with no action we wandered down the beach to where Gary had found a fresh track. We missed this one. She had come and gone.
As we returned to our chairs we saw her. She was making her way up the beach … right past our chairs! We all froze, careful not to make a sound. Nearly three hours later she had laid her eggs. She had a false start with her first nest, moving on to another patch of sand only to start the digging all again. We had stayed silent till now (you don’t realise how difficult it is to not talk for long periods!). But thinking she was returning to the water, we started talking. She didn’t care about us at all. And we had front row seats!
We watched as she dug out her second nest with all four flippers removing all the dry sand. She then used her back two flippers to dig the egg chamber, alternating between the left and right flipper to scoop out the sand. The chamber was quite deep. She then paused and began laying her eggs. We could see two or three eggs dropping each time. We have read that the turtles generally lay around 100 eggs and we felt she had easily laid that many. With the egg laying complete she started covering the egg chamber with sand using her back flippers. She then spent some time carefully compacting the damp sand using her main body. She then started filling in the nest with the dry sand.
We were on the beach for nearly six hours but it was worth it. This will be a very special Lady Musgrave memory.