Scientists and volunteers working with The Leatherback Trust collect data on nesting turtles that allows us to estimate population size. This data shows that East Pacific leatherback populations are critically endangered. We collaborate with park guards and communities around Las Baulas National Park to protect leatherbacks from 5 key threats: development, fishing, nest disturbance, pollution and climate change.

Comparing turtles and people

When visitors see a leatherback turtle at Las Baulas National Park for the first time, many gasp at their size. Although females are typically smaller than males, nesting females often measure up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length!

Turtles from left: Leatherback, East Pacific Green, Olive Ridley

Turtles & nests in decline

As our milestones shows, we started recording data for leatherback turtles in season 1988–89. For olive ridley we started in season 2009–10, and for green turtles we have being so doing since 2011–12.

Sea turtles are able to nest multiple times in a single nesting season. In fact, leatherback turtles lay an average of 7 clutches, black turtles lay an average of 4, and olive ridley turtles lay an average of 2. To determine how many clutches are laid in Las Baulas National Park each year, we multiply average number of nests that are laid by each species in a single nesting season by the number of individual turtles that we encountered that season.

Turtle data
Year Leatherback Olive Ridley East Pacific Green Total
1988–89 1504 0 0 1504
1989–90 1474 0 0 1474
1990–91 732 0 0 732
1991–92 847 0 0 847
1992–93 1000 0 0 1000
1993–94 195 0 0 195
1994–95 569 0 0 569
1995–96 421 0 0 421
1996–97 140 0 0 140
1997–98 234 0 0 234
1998–99 126 0 0 126
1999–00 246 0 0 246
2000–01 417 0 0 417
2001–02 79 0 0 79
2002–03 68 0 0 68
2003–04 188 0 0 188
2004–05 54 0 0 54
2005–06 124 0 0 124
2006–07 76 0 0 76
2007–08 90 0 0 90
2008–09 32 0 0 32
2009–10 49 9 0 58
2010–11 37 79 0 116
2011–12 38 74 6 118
2012–13 35 82 13 130
2013–14 28 41 8 77
2014–15 26 73 22 121
2015-16 22 58 12 92
Nest data
Year Leatherback Olive Ridley East Pacific Green Total
1988–89 10528 0 0 10528
1989–90 10318 0 0 10318
1990–91 5124 0 0 5124
1991–92 5929 0 0 5929
1992–93 7000 0 0 7000
1993–94 1365 0 0 1365
1994–95 3983 0 0 3983
1995–96 2947 0 0 2947
1996–97 980 0 0 980
1997–98 1638 0 0 1638
1998–99 882 0 0 882
1999–00 1722 0 0 1722
2000–01 2919 0 0 2919
2001–02 553 0 0 553
2002–03 476 0 0 476
2003–04 1316 0 0 1316
2004–05 378 0 0 378
2005–06 868 0 0 868
2006–07 532 0 0 532
2007–08 630 0 0 630
2008–09 224 0 0 224
2009–10 343 18 0 361
2010–11 259 158 0 417
2011–12 266 148 24 438
2012–13 245 164 52 461
2013–14 196 82 32 310
2014–15 182 146 88 416
2015-16 154 116 48 318
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1988–89 2015-16
0 in 1988

In the Hatchery

Frequent Asked Questions:

Why do you have a hatchery? When turtles lay their eggs in nests below the high tide line where they are at risk of inundation, we move their eggs to a hatchery to improve hatching success. This interactive exhibit shows the nests currently in the hatchery and provides updates on their status.

How does the hatchery work? TLT scientists identify nests in areas vulnerable to flooding. Assisted by volunteers, the scientists collect the eggs as the turtle lays them and then carefully transport them to a nest dug by hand in the hatchery. Nests are dug to the same depth as those made by the turtles and spaced one meter apart. Scientists place sampling devices in some of the nests to measure gas and temperature as well as between nests to record control data. Each nest is identified with the details of the turtle which laid the eggs and the number of eggs. After the nests have hatched, they are excavated and the success rates are calculated.

Bay Species Status Sponsored
1 Olive Ridley hatched  
2 Olive Ridley hatched  
3 Olive Ridley hatched  
4 Olive Ridley hatched  
5 Leatherback hatched  
6 Olive Ridley hatched  
7 Olive Ridley hatched  
8 Leatherback hatched  
9 Leatherback hatched  
10 Leatherback hatched  
11 Leatherback hatched  
12 Olive Ridley hatched  
13 Leatherback hatched  
14 Leatherback hatched  
15 Olive Ridley hatched  
16 Leatherback hatched  
17 Leatherback hatched  
18 Olive Ridley hatched  
19 Leatherback hatched  
20 Olive Ridley hatched  
21 Olive Ridley hatched  
22 Olive Ridley hatched  
23 Leatherback hatched  
24 Leatherback hatched  
25 Olive Ridley hatched  
26 Leatherback hatched  
27 Olive Ridley hatched  
28 Olive Ridley hatched  
29 Olive Ridley hatched  
30 Leatherback hatched  
31 Leatherback hatched  
32 Leatherback hatched  
33 Leatherback hatched  
34 Olive Ridley hatched  
35 Olive Ridley hatched  
36 Olive Ridley hatched  
37 Olive Ridley hatched  
38 Olive Ridley hatched  
39  
40  
41  
42  
43  
44  
45  
46  
47  
48  
49  
50  
  • Leatherback
  • Olive Ridley
  • East Pacific Green
  • Unhatched
  • Hatched
  • Sponsored