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Dec 1, 2012

A leatherback turtle was found on the sandy beach of Glefe, Accra, Ghana at about 7:30pm yesterday (Friday 30 September) by residents of the area. The giant turtle was seen nesting quietly on the beach.

Before she realized what was going on, a large crowd had gathered as people kept running back and forth to call on their family and friends. Mobile phones were not left out in spreading the news resulting to a near chaos situation and the darkness of night also made it almost impossible to get a good snap shot of the beast.

I however was able to get a shot with a coastal guard posing on the turtle while she was still busy laying eggs. In my estimation, the turtle should be over 250 kilos in weight and over 6 feet in length.

On getting to the scene after been alerted by a neighbor of the happening, I spoke with the coastal guard and a few of the native fishermen around. They all have different spiritual connotations to the creature. Some believe that she was a water goddess that helps in the sea whenever their fishing boats get into trouble on the sea. Some said, since they have never seen it before, and they have never heard of any history with their ancestors, they rather not have anything to do with her and she must be returned to sea as soon as she finished nesting.

duncan abel_green_turtleAs the interview was going on, we heard the crowd shouting and rushing towards the sea. I moved in that direction to catch glimpse of whatever is happening, behold, another leatherback turtle making its way to shore.

The fishermen didnít waste time in deciding on what to do with him. They immediately swam to meet him and turned him back to sea. Pushing and forcing the beast to change direction back to sea. Of course, he bowed to pressure and left honorably. It was agreed by all that that is the husband looking for his darling. Since it could be a bad omen for him to be welcomed, the natives would rather have him leave at once.

On getting back to the beach, they hardly waited for the female to finish covering the hole in which she laid her eggs when they started dragging her back to sea. As the turtle touched sea water, she headed back for land but met the resistance of the fishermen, so, she finally made up her mind to leave but she swam along the coast line not going deep like the male.

This reaction of the giant leatherback turtle got me thinking. Its either she is too tired to return to sea immediately after labor so, she moved along the coast so that she could go back to land as soon as she can sense some quiet environment or she didnít complete the nesting due to human interference so she covered the pit quickly to go and find another spot for nesting.

Whatever the case, I hope she will find her mate so that sea life can have a meaning once again.

Duncan Abel


  1. Hello,

    I had the opportunity of speaking with a fisherman at Glefe, Accra, Ghana this afternoon and he said that the giant leatherback turtle is well known to him.

    They move in twos (Male & Female) and have always been of help to fishermen on the sea any time their fishing boat capsizes.

    In an event of accidents on the sea, they normally come around to carry the fishermen to shore for safety and for that reason, the fishermen forbids to kill or eat the turtle any time they come to shore to nest.

  2. That it is very interesting.

  3. Soft-Shelled Turtles /

    Leatherback turtles have soft shells. This man could have killed the turtle by standing on it. A grown man can easily puncture the lung of a 250 kg leatherback turtle and kill it.

    The turtles also needs air and should only be underwater for 5 – 15 minutes, they will die if they get caught in fishing nets.

    Only female turtles come ashore. The fishermen turned away another female turtle who wanted to deposit her eggs in the sand. Please tell the natives of Ghana they should leave the turtles alone when they come onto land.

  4. WillG /

    You guys are absolutely ignorant and should be banished to Guantanamo bay for your crimes against nature. You are too ……. to realize what goes on in nature. The guy on top of the turtle should be locked up in jail. In my country (Trinidad & Tobago) we have many thousands nesting on the beaches and they are protected by law and one cannot interfere with them. No wonder people think African natives are ……

    • Thanks for your comment Will but the use of strong language is unacceptable. Thanks all the same.

  5. Horrified /

    THIS IS AWFUL! Not only is this article rife with complete ignorance but it is such a shame to see how careless these people treated a living thing…Let’s start with the guy standing on the turtle – all I can say about that is he should be put in prison – how would HE like if some guy just jumped on top of him and crushed him? Poor turtle! And the fact that this is a soft-shelled turtle only makes it worse…

    Second, only pregnant females come ashore to lay eggs. So, they forced a pregnant female away while she was going into labor…In all likelihood she was probably either too frightened or tired to try and lay them again and the eggs she carried were lost to sea and died (turtle eggs only survive if laid into sand).

    Finally, if they dragged the turtle away from her nest before she was finished covering the eggs with sand, it’s very likely predators got to the eggs before they ever had a chance to hatch – the eggs must be buried well enough that predators cannot find/eat them. Also, being buried in sand helps with incubation.

    From what I see these people may have very well killed off two generations worth of leather-back sea turtles – a species which is already endangered and struggling to survive.

    So Duncan, if the leather back turtles really hold special meaning to the locals of Ghana they should be trying to HELP the turtles – not hurt them. Here is a link with a lot of info about sea turtles and how they hatch and lay eggs:

    Maybe you can help spread knowledge so you’re next article will be one of happiness instead of atrocity!

  6. Hi Lucy, you should have been more civilized by not using the word “absolute idi’ts”.

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