HB 26 The Mating Dance
My friends and I could not believe our luck when these 2 endangered green turtles (chelonian Mydas) began mating not 2 metres from us. It lasted approx.15 minutes but it not unusual for them to copulate for several hours. Needless to say that I have so many photographs to process. What a special experience and one I will never forget.
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Green turtles are polygynandrous, meaning that females and males will have multiple mates. Copulation occurs in the shallow waters off the shore of nesting beaches. When females accept a mate, the male will mount her and grab onto her "mating notches" around her shoulders to assist in copulation (Hirth, 1971). Male green turtles also are known to join other mating pairs during copulation by latching onto other males for hours on end in attempts to dislodge the mating male. The reproduction process usually follows a system such as: male searches for a female mate, the male will visually examine and then approach the female, the female will either submit or reject the male,then possible copulation. Copulation can last several hours, with the longest mounting episode lasting 119 hours. Female green turtles average a total of 15 days between initial mounting by a male to the time they attempt to nest on their respective natal beaches. ("Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)",
Females are known to revisit their natal beaches in 2-4 year intervals to breed from June to September. If they don't return to their natal beach, they will select a beach with similar sand texture and color. Hirth (1971, as cited in Carr and Ogren 1960) describes predictable actions by females when they approach a nesting beach. Although they may not complete every action, the process usually begins with the turtles approaching the beach and selecting a suitable nest site. The females begin clearing the area of debris and digging a hole with their front legs. After laying eggs, the females fill the nest with sand as a way to camouflage and conceal the eggs. Then, the female turtles return to the sea.
Female green turtles can lay 1- 9 clutches in a single nesting season, but tend to average around 3. Each of these clutches can include 75-200 eggs. After nesting, it usually takes 45-75 days for the eggs to hatch. The hatchings weigh approximately 26g on average. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings will begin their journey towards the ocean. From here the hatchlings will begin the juvenile portion of their life which can last 27-50 years before reaching full maturity.