There are seven species of sea turtles in the world. Of these the two most commonly found in the waters around the British Virgin Islands are the green and hawksbill turtles.
Sea turtles travel thousands of miles a year migrating great distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Although they are reptiles and need air to breathe they spend most of their lives in the water, only coming ashore to nest.
Turtles are egg layers and depend on quiet, dark beaches to lay their eggs in camouflaged nests, called clutches. The eggs take between 55 to 70 days to hatch depending on sand temperature. It has been found that warmer nests produce more females while cooler nests produce more males. Hatchlings usually emerge from the nest altogether, and make what appears to be a mad dash for the sea. They are extremely vulnerable at this time to predators on land and in the sea.
Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) can reach almost 40 inches in length (carapace - top shell), weigh up to 500 pounds and feed on sea grasses. They reach sexual maturity between 20-50 years. The green is the largest of all the hard-shelled turtles. They typically nest between June and September. During the season they lay about five nests (clutches); one every two weeks. In the wild those that reach maturity may live up to 80 years
Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) are the smallest of the sea turtles that frequent BVI waters. They are named for their narrow, pointed beak. A mature hawksbill will weigh between 100 - 150 pounds and measures about 25 inches in length. Female hawksbills return every two to three years to the beaches they were born on to lay their eggs. They lay three to five nests per season with about 130 eggs each. The hawksbill has a distinctive and beautiful shell (carapace). They were harvested almost to extinction for their shell, which was used to create jewellery, combs and brushes. Hawksbills are found throughout the world's tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled the seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.
Newly hatched hawksbill turtles emerge from their sandy nest during the months of August-September. When they emerge from the sand, they use the light of the moon and stars to make their way into the ocean. An average of 80% of hawksbill turtles survive and make it into adulthood.
75c & $5 Souvenir Sheet
Hawksbill turtles are one most frequent visitor found in the BVI. They are found among coral reefs and enjoy eating sponges, jellyfish, and sometimes sea grasses.
15c (sheetlet only), 20c & $2.75
The green turtle is named for the green fat found beneath its carapace from eating the chlorophyll pigments found in sea grasses. Their overall colouring is olive to black. This turtle is relaxing on a bed of manatee grass (syringodium filiforme) one of its favourite meals.
Designer: Bee Design
Photography: BVI Conservation and Fisheries Department
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size: 42 x 28mm
Sheet Layout: 10
Sheetlet size: 200 x 188mm
Souvenir Sheet size: 60 x 80mm
Release date: 6 September, 2017
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd