There are seven species of sea turtles in the world, and three of these inhabit the waters of St. John. The two most common are the green and hawksbill turtles, while the leatherback is rarely seen. Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water only coming ashore to nest. Turtles travel thousands of miles a year. Visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy web site to see where they go.
Trunk Bay beach is named after the leatherback turtle because they used to nest there in large numbers. But wait –they are called leatherbacks but the bay was named Trunk Bay. Why? Leatherbacks when on the ocean surface look like a steamer trunk floating so the Danes and locals called them trunk turtles, so the story goes.
Turtles are egg layers and depend on quiet, dark beaches to lay their eggs in camouflaged nests, called clutches. The eggs take between 55 to 70 days to hatch depending on sand temperature. It has been found that warmer nests produce more females while cooler nests produce more males. Hatchlings usually emerge from the nest all together, and make what appears to be a mad dash for the sea. They are extremely vulnerable at this time to predators on land and in the sea. They will become disoriented if there is artificial light in the area. Here is more information on the lifecycle of a turtle.