Romance is in the air… for loggerhead turtles.
The mating season is in full swing, and loggerheads are cruising Cayman’s reefs searching for suitable partners. For divers, an encounter with these lustful loggerheads is an experience to remember.
“He was huge, first one I’ve ever seen, he came straight at me,” said Ocean Frontiers dive instructor Simon Dixon’s first encounter with a lustful loggerhead, and it was all caught on tape.
“First thing he did, face-to-face, turned his head away, bumped me a little bit with the shell, and then proceeded to what I can only describe as show a dramatic interest in my shorts,” said Mr. Dixon.
“We’re entering the breeding season for loggerhead turtles,” said DOE research officer Janice Blumenthal.
She told Cayman 27 these male loggerheads come to Cayman from Nicaragua to cruise for mates. They are inclined to check out other large animals in the water like divers.
“Unfortunately there aren’t very many loggerhead turtles in our waters, so if they see something of a large size they will definitely come over and investigate, and they can approach quite closely before they determine that it’s not a turtle,” said Ms. Blumenthal.
“I wouldn’t say nerve-racking but it’s certainly an adrenaline rush for sure to see them,” said Mr. Dixon.
He told Cayman 27 he didn’t feel threatened during his encounter with the prehistoric giant, at times gently pushing him away with a single finger.
“Obviously he means me no harm, but through mistaken identity, accidents can happen,” he said.
However, if a diver catches a mating pair in the act, Ms. Blumenthal told Cayman 27 it’s best to view the sultry action from a distance.
“It’s difficult for them to find each other to mate and the mating can be interrupted if people approach too closely,” said Ms. Blumenthal.
And when May comes around, the circle of life will start anew as nesting season begins.
The DOE is asking that divers and snorkelers report all sightings of adult turtles in Cayman waters. These reports are added to a turtle sighting database, and helps the department track turtle numbers.