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Turtles around Bayahibe

Turtles around Bayahibe

Can we see any turtles while scuba diving or snorkeling in Bayahibe? The answer is yes, you can see Hawksbill, Green Sea or Leatherback turtles.

Hawksbill Turtles have hard brown and yellow shells, covered in plates with serrated edges, and have two claws on each fin. Their heads have two pairs of plates between the eyes and a sharp beak. Their size is 24 – 45 inch / 61 – 114 cm and can 100 – 150 lbs / 45 – 68 kg, the lifespan in wild is 30 – 50 years, they feed on algae, seagrass, shellfish and marine sponges. The nesting season is between June and December, each nesting usually has between 160 to 250 eggs. The Hawksbill Turtles are endangered Species !!!

Green Sea Turtles are named by the color of their body tissue, not by the color of the shell. They have flattened upper shell with four shields on each side, dark gray-green head with two scales above the eyes. They grow up to 5 ft (60 inch) / 152 cm and up to 700 lbs / 317 kg. Their lifespan in wild is 80 + years, they feed on seaweeds and shellfish. Their nesting season is from May to September and each nesting has between 115 to 150 eggs.

Leatherback Turtles are the only sea turtles with soft shells. They have five lengthwise dark gray or black ridges with light spots, they don’t have scales on the head and have a prominent upper jaw with a sharp, curved beak. The leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to 6 – 7 ft / 1.8 – 2 m and some of them weigh more than 2,000 lbs / 910 kg. The can dive deeper than any other turtle (up to 4,200 ft / 1,280 m) and can stay down for up to 85 minutes. Their lifespan in wild is around 45 years Leatherback turtles feed mainly on jellyfish. Their nesting season is from May to July and each nesting has between 80 to 90 eggs.

Unfortunately the population of turtles even in Dominican republic is shrinking, the major threats are not only catching, collecting the eggs and selling the meat for human consumption, but also fishing nets, in which they get accidentally caught and for leatherbacks plastic bags they see as jellyfish. To help to protect the turtles, please don’t throw any garbage overboard on your excursions and do not buy any souvenirs made of turtle shells.

Parrotfish (2 of 2)

Parrotfish (2 of 2)

Is sand actually parrotfish poop?
Parrotfish are one of the most important reef fish, eating algae and keeping the reefs clean. While cleaning the corals and eating the marine plants, they eat corals too, actually up to 75% of their guts is non organic. After they digest all the nutrients, the rest of the “food” gets out as sand. Believe it or not one single adult can “make” up to 1 ton / 2,200 lbs of sand every year! So next time when you come to Bayahibe (or any Caribbean island) and lay down on the beach, you will be actually laying on a fish poop hahaha.
But on a serious note, because of their job, the parrotfish are protected and are banned to catch in Dominican republic and the whole Caribbean. Please do not ask the locals to serve you a parrotfish lunch or dinner at the beaches please, because in the future we might not have enough sand to lay on.

Parrotfish (1 of 2)

Parrotfish (1 of 2)

Did you know most parrotfish are born as females? Most juveniles grow into females, when their leading male dies, the strongest female from the group turns into a male.
They live in small groups up to dozen females, each group is ran by a single strong male. The males defend their position from other males and protect their “harem”. When the male dies, the strongest female from the group turns into a male and takes the “harem” over, protecting the rest of the females. The change from female to male takes very short time, sometimes not even two weeks. Female parrotfish release many tiny, buoyant eggs that freely float in the water and settle into a coral until hatching.
Parrotfish are one of the most colorful reef fish in the Caribbean, the name comes from the shape of their mouth that looks like a beak of a parrot. They live up to 10 years and sexually mature when they are about 3 years old. Through every phase of their life they change colors, from juvenile, to large female, up to the final supermale period. They have the nicest and most beautiful colors when they reach their final stage.

In the Sea