© Connor Doucette
A leatherback turtle skull from a turtle found dead on a beach in 1960 was shown off at a presentation about leatherback sea turtles at Amherst Shore Provincial Park on Saturday.
AMHERST SHORE – Few people are lucky enough to see a fully grown leatherback turtle here in Nova Scotia.
But Katelyn Sahey has not only seen one but touched one, all part of her job at the assistant director of the Canadian Seaturtle Network.
On Saturday she went out to the Amherst Shore Provinical park to teach campers about this rare animal
Camp host Bobby Myers said Sahey’s presentation was excellent.
“I thought it was great, we got a really good turnout. The kids really liked it.”
“A lot of people don’t know about turtles,” Sahey said “so it’s good to inform them so they can maybe help conserve their numbers.”
Leatherback sea turtles can grow up to six feet long and reach 100 years in age. They are migratory, laying their eggs in the Caribbean and South America and traveling all the way up to Nova Scotia to feed on their favorite and only prey, jellyfish. They spend their entire lives swimming, with females only coming ashore to lay eggs, and the males staying in the ocean their entire lives.
There are many mysteries surrounding the leatherback turtle, including how and when they sleep, how they migrate, and how they manage to come back to the same beach they were born on to their eggs every year.
“There’s so many things we don’t know about them, they’re a big mystery,” Sahey said.
The leatherback turtles are an endangered species, with around 30,000 left in the wild. The Canadian Seaturtle Network is trying to change that by developing a network of fishermen that alert them when a turtle has been sighted or found dead and try to clean up garbage on the shores and in the ocean, Sahey said.
“Plastic bags are one of the biggest problems, because when they’re in the ocean floating they look just like jellyfish, and the turtles try to eat them and can choke. Everyday people can help with this task too, by throwing away their trash properly at the beach or cleaning up garbage they find.”