22 Apr 2018

22 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Four: A Messy Eater

The highlight of the final day at sea between St Helena & Ascension Island were not the Seabirds including the first Ascension Island Frigatebird or the Cetaceans & other Sealife seen, but some messy eaters were saw as we passed them. They were four Leatherback Turtles, the first Leatherback Turtles we saw on the Odyssey.
Leatherback Turtle: The large size & lack of any plates on the body leaves Leatherback Turtle as the only candidate. They have five long ridges on their back
Leatherback Turtle: It was on view for the best part of a minute, before it finally dived
I had mixed emotions when I initially saw this first Leatherback Turtle. While it was good to have only seen my second Leatherback Turtle (the first being on the Pompey - Bilboa ferry in Aug 1999 of the French coast), I thought it was tangled in some pink debris hence my mixed feelings. I had been mainly looking through the camera & unable to fully see what the pink debris was. After we were discussing the Leatherback Turtle, somebody pointed out that what we had actually seen was a Leatherback Turtle feeding on one of its favourite foods: Salp. Salp is a long barrel-like floating planktonic 'Jellyfish', however, it strictly not a Jellyfish. Salp feed on phytoplankton. Within 45 minutes, we had seen our second Leatherback Turtle of the day.
Leatherback Turtle: The second sighting started in a similar way to the first
Leatherback Turtle: This time the head started to appear as Sea Turtles need to breathe air
Leatherback Turtle: This is one of my favourite photos from the Odyssey
Leatherback Turtle: A close up of the head & back which shows four of the five ridges on the back
Leatherback Turtle: Having breathed in & probably checked us out, it was time to disappear
Leatherback Turtle
Leatherback Turtle: The third individual was thirty minutes later & not as close. It also didn't have any Salp
Leatherback Turtle: The final individual was picked up in front of the Plancius on the starboard side, but rapidly dived
It had been a great morning.