The Leatherback Turtles of Trinidad


Is there another animal that appears more often in human mythology, folklore, and literature than the turtle and its land dwelling cousin, the tortoise? They have variously stood for wisdom, tenacity, longevity, fertility, or stability in cultures around the world. The leatherback is the largest of all living turtles, the male up to 900 kgs and 3 m. It feeds mostly on jellyfish and lives up to 45 years (a disputed number). Unlike other turtles, it lacks a bony shell but has a hard leathery skin. That plus its powerful flippers and hydrodynamic body allow it to dive down to 1400 m and swim as fast as 35 kmph. Given its large size, its natural predators include only sharks, killer whales, and now humans.

Surviving as a species for an astounding 150 million years (modern humans arrived 0.2 million years ago), through big extinction events like the one that killed the dinosaurs, it is now endangered by human activity: entrapment in commercial fishing gear; poaching for meat on nesting beaches; consumption of turtle eggs as a delicacy or for their (non-existent) aphrodisiacal properties; coastal development near nesting sites (lights, noise, and worse); and the turtles mistaking marine plastic waste for jellyfish.

The leatherbacks often travel thousands of miles each year to feeding sites. They mate at sea and while the male never returns to land, the female, quite amazingly, returns to spawn on the very beach where she was born. Most scientific studies are therefore based on the female. How she returns to her birthplace without a GPS device is not conclusive, though the best theories posit at least a sensory apparatus for the earth’s magnetic field, not unlike many migratory birds. Quite possibly, the geomagnetic coordinates of their natal beach are encoded into the hatchlings long before they reach the sea, and the adult female navigates to it the rest of her life. Indeed, the leatherbacks we saw were all returning to their ancestral home. So the loss of turtle nesting habitat has led directly to a decline in their numbers. This has led to more jellyfish, which eat large quantities of fish larvae, contributing to a drop in fish populations.

Removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril – Short Version


While on a research project in Costa Rica, Nathan J. Robinson removed a 10 cm (4 in) plastic straw that was entirely embedded into the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle. Lamentably, this is a consequence of the world of single-use, non-biodegradable plastic that we currently live in.

There is a solution and it lies in our own decisions. Please say no to all single-use plastic. Every plastic straw, plastic bag, or plastic bottle that ends up in the oceans could mean the difference between life or death for any number of marine animals.

Video taken by: Christine Figgener.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to seven feet (two meters) long and exceeding 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). These reptilian relics are the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that traces its evolutionary roots back more than 100 million years. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world.

While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Ridges along the carapace help give it a more hydrodynamic structure. Leatherbacks can dive to depths of 4,200 feet (1,280 meters)—deeper than any other turtle—and can stay down for up to 85 minutes.

Leatherbacks have the widest global distribution of all reptile species, and possibly of any vertebrate. They can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult leatherbacks also traverse as far north as Canada and Norway and as far south as New Zealand and South America. Unlike their reptilian relatives, leatherbacks are able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allows them to both generate and retain body heat. These adaptations include large body size, changes in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick layer of fat.

Leatherbacks undertake the longest migrations between breeding and feeding areas of any sea turtle, averaging 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) each way. After mating at sea, females come ashore during the breeding season to nest. The nighttime ritual involves excavating a hole in the sand, depositing around 80 eggs, filling the nest, leaving a large, disturbed area of sand that makes detection by predators difficult, and finally returning to the sea.

The temperature inside the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. A mix of male and female hatchlings occurs when the nest temperature is approximately 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit (29.5 degrees Celsius), while higher temperatures produce females and cooler temperatures produce males. Female hatchlings that make it to sea will roam the oceans until they reach sexual maturity, when they return to the same nesting areas to produce their own offspring. Males spend the rest of their lives at sea.

Their lifespan is unknown but many leatherbacks meet an early end due to human activity. It is estimated that only about one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood. Eggs are often taken by humans from nests to be consumed for subsistence or as aphrodisiacs. Many leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets, or are struck by boats. Leatherbacks also can die if they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for their favorite food: jellyfish. Some individuals have been found to have almost 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of plastic in their stomachs.

Leatherbacks are currently designated as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The number of leatherbacks in the Atlantic appears to be stable or increasing, but the Pacific population is declining at an alarming rate due to egg harvest, fishery bycatch, coastal development, and highly variable food availability. Some Pacific populations have disappeared entirely from certain areas, such as Malaysia.

Scientists around the world are tracking and studying leatherbacks to learn more about these reptilian giants and how they can be saved.


Source: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/leatherback-sea-turtle/

Life Cycle of Leatherbacks

The leatherback life cycle begins with a female turtle laying eggs on a nesting beach. Females stay close to shore in “internesting habitats” for 3-4 months and make repeated visits at 10-day intervals to lay eggs. Adult females depart for pelagic habitats to forage and remain there for an average “remigration interval” of 2-5 years until they return to nest once again.

About 55-60 days after the female lays eggs, hatchling turtles emerge from their nests, head to the sea and follow ocean currents to pelagic nursery habitats, where they search for food and seek refuge from predators. Scientists refer to this time period as “the lost years”, since finding hatchlings and juveniles to study in the open ocean is difficult.

After 15-25 years leatherbacks reach maturity. Mature female turtles return to their natal beaches for nesting, but adult male turtles live entirely at sea.

Nesting

Female leatherbacks usually lay their eggs at night. Nesting turtles may decide not to nest if there are too many lights onshore. Those that come ashore seek nesting sites free of debris (tree limbs). If the turtle does not find a suitable site for her nest, she may return to the ocean without laying.

Leatherbacks carve out an egg chamber about 75 centimeters (inches) deep in the sand, where they deposit 65-115 eggs. (East Pacific leatherbacks are known to lay fewer eggs than their counterparts in the Atlantic.) Only 85 percent of these eggs are viable, as some have no yolk to develop into an embryo.

A leatherback can lay 7 to 11 individual nests per season, laying a new nest every 10 days. Between nesting seasons, females will spend 3-4 years feeding to build up enough energy to nest again. Older females typically lay more nests with more eggs than turtles that have recently reached maturity.

The sex of turtle eggs is determined by the temperature of the nest. During the middle third of incubation (days 20-40) the temperature within the nest determines the ratio of males to females; warmer temperatures mean more females while cooler temperatures yield more males.

After an incubation period of 60 days the eggs will begin to hatch. The hatchling turtles must emerge from the nest and make their way to the ocean. Ten percent of hatchlings will be eaten by seabirds, crabs, reptiles and mammals on the beach. Only 25 percent of hatchlings will make it through their first few days in the ocean. Just 6 percent of hatchlings will survive their first year.

Foraging

Although leatherback turtles nest in the tropics, they principally feed (also called foraging) in cold waters far from the equator, such as those of Chile, California, Canada, northern Europe, southern Africa and New Zealand. These areas are most abundant in jellyfish, which are a primary food source for leatherback turtles.

Scientists divide leatherbacks into seven subpopulations: East Pacific Ocean, West Pacific Ocean, Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Southeast Atlantic Ocean, Southwest Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Indian Ocean, and Southwest Indian Ocean.

We do not know how leatherback turtles navigate the great distances between their feeding grounds and their nesting beaches. However, we do know that turtles follow common paths between nesting and feeding habitats. Scientists refer to these paths as migration corridors.


Source: http://www.leatherback.org/why-leatherbacks/life-cycle-of-leatherbacks

The Videos

The Leatherbacks at Coconutz

The Leatherbacks of Tamarindo jamming on our Tequila Stage at Coconutz Sports Bar & Eatery. leatherbacks, live music, coconutx, playas del coco, sports bar, guanacaste


Donnie Walsh “Downchild Blues Band” & the Leatherbacks


Another Saturday night with great live music at the Bar La Vida Loca in Playa del Coco, Costa Rica.


The Leatherbacks 2016 LA Vida Loca

The Leatherbacks at LaVida Loca….Feb 13 2016

Jose Canales, The Leatherbacks’ Drummer

joseJose Canales, better known as “Pitilo”, was born and raised in Filadelfia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica and started playing drums at 7 years old.

At age 20 he moved to San Jose, where he studied music and began performing with the most well known bands in the country including Kike de Heredia, Taboga Band, La Mafia, Pimienta Negra and la Pandilla.

He’s shared the stage with many notable internationally known musicians and has been involved in different Latin music projects in the United States.

After returning to Costa Rica Jose continued playing and joined ‘The Leatherbacks’ in 2007.


José Canales conocido en el ambiente musical como “Pitilo”, nace en Filadelfia, Guanacaste.

Tiene su primer contacto con la batería a los 7 anos, a los 10 integra grupo musical infantil y ya a los 13 integra una banda con músicos adultos.

En sus 20 emigra a estudiar música a San José y empieza a tocar con los mejores grupos musicales entre ellos Kike de Heredia, Taboga Band, La Mafia, Pimienta Negra y la Pandilla.

Se va a Estados Unidos por alrededor del 2005 y participa en proyectos musicales latinos, en escenarios en New York. El Desfile De La Hispanidad, el Festival de Salsa en Washington DC……..

Ya de regreso a Costa Rica es parte de diferentes festivales de Jazz, y sigue con la música hasta que se encuentra con otro proyecto, esta vez de rock, con la banda ‘The Leatherbacks’.

Roy Fonseca, The Leatherbacks’ Percussionist

royRodrigo (Roy) Fonseca was born in Caracas, Venezuela where he began his musical career at age 13. He found success in the underground Caracas scene, playing bongos in a ska-latin rock group, a dance company and other notable projects until later moving to the island of Margarita. It was there he got much more serious about his music, studying percussion with various Venezuelan masters, including his father, Gaspar Fonseca.

After paying some dues, he put his own project together with the great Venezuelan musician Roman Gerdel, Cubans Michel Font and Alejandro Padron, and natives Leo Gil and Israel Stanley forming the group Cuerda Y Bongo. The group was highly admired and enjoyed much success recording and touring in Europe.

Later he moved to Costa Rica, where he continued his studies and played with many notable Costa Rican artists such as Odilon Juares and the groups Union Cartagena, Son Guanaco and Vino Tinto.

Roy jammed on and off with ‘The Leatherbacks’ for a while until joining permanently in 2005.


Rodrigo Fonseca (Roy) venezolano, nacido en Caracas, incursiona en la música a la edad de 13 anos como bongosero en una banda Ska y pop-rock latino Jean Luc & Io grupo muy exitoso en el medio artístico underground caraqueño, al mismo tiempo se desempeña como conguero del grupo de danza contemporánea Rajatabla del Ateneo de Caracas.

Al mudarse para Isla Margarita, comienza sus estudios no formales con su padre Gaspar Fonseca y con los maestros William Castellanos (chanberlain) y Sergio (el gato)Gallardo. Es ahí donde se ubica seriamente en la música al lado de su padre siendo conguero en el grupo de salsa Semilla perteneciente a este por un tiempo aproximado de 2 anos.

Comienza después, sus propios proyectos acompañado del gran músico Venezolano Román Gerdel y los cubanos Michel Font, Alejandro Padrón y los nativos Leo Gil e Israel Estanley, conformando el grupo Cuerda Y Bongo, con este grupo se logran giras en Europa específicamente en Holanda, Alemania y Bélgica. Graba su primer disco.

Al cabo de un ano en Europa la banda regresa a Venezuela y Roy decide separarse de esta para viajar a Costa Rica. Una vez ahí realiza estudios musicales en la Escuela de Música de la Universidad de Costa Rica y en la Universidad Nacional.

En Costa Rica forma parte de las siguientes orquestas: Unión Cartagena, Son Guanaco, y Vino Tinto, por un periodo de 4 anos más o menos. Graba su segundo disco como músico invitado del maestro nicoyano Odilon Juárez.

Hasta unirse más tarde a la banda de rock The Leatherbacks, que comparte el escenario todos los veranos con los músicos internacionalmente conocidos Donny Walsh y Chuck Jackson de la banda Canadiense Downchild Bluesband.

Para Roy la música es un camino sin fin pero con objetivos definidos por ello la música se hace, se estudia y se desarrolla día a día.

Graba su tercer CD llamado ‘The Leatherbacks’.

Pedro Golobios, The Leatherbacks’ Bass Guitarist

pedroPedro Golobios was born in Heredia, Costa Rica.

He began studying music at the Basic Music School at the University of Costa Rica when he was 7 years old; where he experiment with different instruments such as piano, marimba and French horn. At age14 he discovered his true passion: Bass.

Pedro plays many different styles including gospel, rock and jazz; and this was a big influence when he developed his own project, Santa Esperanza.

He has shared the stage with many notable artists such as Guadalupe Urbina and Max Goldenberg.

Rock has played a big part in his musical development and after playing with The Leatherbacks at their famous open mic night in Tamarindo he joined the band and has been rockin’ ever since.


Pedro Alexander Golobios Madrigal, nace en Heredia el 05 de Diciembre de 1976, a la edad de 7 anos comienza a explorar los primeros sonidos en la percusión de la Escuela de Música de la Etapa Básica de la Universidad de Costa rica, la comprensión de lectura musical le ayuda a experimentar con otros instrumentos como el Piano, Marimba y el Corno Francés.

Fue a los 14 anos cuando se encontró con su gran pasión: El Bajo.

Por medio de la música cristiana desarrolla otros géneros musicales como el gospel, rock y jazz, entre otros, dándole una cierta ventaja intelecto-musical no experimentada en su actual provincia Guanacaste y es ahí donde crea su propio proyecto llamado Santa Esperanza. En el cual escribe, compone y canta la “Nueva Canción Guanacasteca” -que no olvida lo tradicional-

Por otra parte el Rock influye mucho en el y es en una “noche de micrófono abierto” en Playa Tamarindo donde conoce a Nick D’Amico cantante y líder de la banda The Leatherbacks y comienza la aventura de disfrutar tocando buena música y de plasmar un proyecto con canciones originales hecho GUANACASTE.

Pedro ha compartido escenario con muchas personalidades del medio, como: Guadalupe Urbina, Max Goldenberg, Avelino y proyecto electrobrasileño Batuque y congo.

Brian Burback, The Leatherbacks’ Vocalist ~ Guitarist

brianBrian Burback was born and raised in High Praire, Alberta, Canada.

In 1988 he moved to Hollywood, California to do formal training in both guitar and bass at the renowned Musicians Institute.

Following school, he moved to Vancouver, Canada where he wrote and performed in the groups Critical Mass and Strangedays.

Now Brian frequents Costa Rica as a guitarist and vocalist for The Leatherbacks.


Brian Burback nació y creció en High Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

En 1988 he se ubico en Hollywood California donde estudio formalmente in guitarra y bajo en el renombrado Musicians Institute.

Despues de su entrenamiento fue a Vancouver, Canada, donde escribió música y toco en las bandas Critical Mass y Strangedays.

Ahora Brian frecuenta Costa Rica como guitarrista y vocalista para The Leatherbacks.

Nick D’Amico, The Leatherbacks’ Vocalist ~ Guitarist

nickNick grew up absorbing the sounds of Blues and Rock in his home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he played in various bands.

At age 18 he relocated to Southern California where he continued performing until he decided to move to Costa Rica after a surf trip.

A self taught guitarist – singer, he formed ‘The Leatherbacks’ in 1997. He and his band have been asked to open shows for various artists, among them CCR when they came to Costa Rica.

While running Tamarindo’s famous open mic night, he’s played with many well known international musicians, such as Stevie Salas and Canadian rocker Paul James. He and his band have been playing for the last 7 years with Donnie Walsh and Chuck Jackson (Downchild Blues Band) during their seasonal visits to Costa Rica.


Nick creció absorbiendo los ritmos de Blues y Rock en su ciudad de origen Milwaukee,Wisconsin ,donde toco con varios bandas.

A la edad de 18 se fue al Sur de California donde continuo tocando música, y fue después de un viaje de surf donde decide cambiar de domicilio y vivir en Costa Rica.
Guitarrista –cantante autodidacta, fue en 1997 cuando formo la banda The Leatherbacks.

El y su banda han sido invitados a abrir shows de diferentes artistas, entre ellos Credence Clear Water cuando vinieron de tour a Costa Rica.

Mientras era el anfitrión en las famosas noches de micrófono abierto tuvo la oportunidad de compartir la tarima con varios músicos internacionalmente conocidos como son Stevie Salas y el canadiense rockero Paul James.Asi como musicos nacionales conocidos.

Nick y The Leatherbacks han tocado por los ultimos 7 anos con Donnie Walsh y Chuck Jackson (Downchild Blues Band)durante las visitas anuales a Costa Rica de estos dos musicos.