The turtle pond was first open in August 2014. It features the three species most common in New Caledonia: the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle.
The pond is 12m across and 2m deep and is set in its own landscaped park. It holds 200. 000 liters of water and is the largest display in the Aquarium. There, you will be able to observe the animals in an environment that suits their needs. It even features a strech of sand beach where the turtle may lay their eggs.
An amphibian life
Four species of sea turtles can be found in New Caledonian waters. Three are quite common: the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle. The fourth, the Leatherback Turtle, is seen more seldom, as it prefers to live offshore and rarely visits the lagoon.
The lagoons, coral reefs and nearby deep waters are favouried feeding sites for these species. New Caledonia is also a reproduction site for the Green Turtle and the Loggerhead Turtle.
The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Its name comes from the colour of its fat, It has a finely serrated beak. Adults usually have one claw on each flipper. Average length: 1.1m, average weight: 140kg.
Juveniles live in open waters. Adults browse the seagrass flats and algae beds of the lagoon. Juveniles are carnivorous (custaceans, mollusks, small invertebrates), while adults are herbivorous (algae and seagrasses).
Many come to New Caledonia to lay their eggs, A favourite laying site is D’Entrecasteaux Reef, a reef complex to the NW of New Caledonia’s main island, the second most important laying site for this species.
The Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
The head of the Loggerhead turtle is particularly large, thus its name. Adults have two claws on each flipper. Average length: 1m, average weight: 150kg.
Juveniles live in open waters. Adults cruise the coral reefs and those lagoon bays with a hard bottom (rich in invertebrates). They are a carnivorous species and feeds on cnidaria, mollusks and invertebrates.
Many come to New Caledonia to lay their eggs, A favourite laying site is the Roche Percée beach at Bourail (Main Island), the second most frequented site in the South Pacific after Australia.
The Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
The Hawksbill Turtle’s scales are superimposed on the shell like a mosaic (imbricated). Its beak is long, narrow and hooked. Adults have two claws on each flipper. Average length: 0.9m, average weight: 70kg.
Juveniles live in open waters. Adults cruise the coral reefs and seagrass beds. They are a carnivorous species and feed on invertebrates (soft corals, sponges) and algae. Its flesh is often toxic.
This species does not lay eggs in New Caledonia, and is seen more seldon in New Caledonian waters than the other two.
DID YOU KNOW?
Turtles are migratory animals, and their life cycle is fairly complex. Females lay their eggs on the beach where they were born. After a few months incubation, the eggs hatch and the young turtles scramble to the waters of the lagoon and swim out to sea.
They begin a long period of migration (more than 10 years), far from New Caledonia, to their favourite feeding grounds such as the coasts of Australia and New Guinea. After some 15 years spent on the feeding grounds, they reach maturity and are ready to reproduce. They then undertake their first long journey back to New Caledonia where they were born.
They mate near the beach where they intend to lay their eggs. Then the females crawl up the beach, dig a hole in the sand, and lay their eggs. After several layings, they return to their feeding grounds – which can be thousands of kilometers away from that beach.