Photo by @BrianSkerry.
A leatherback sea turtle crawls back to the sea after laying her eggs on the beach at Sandy Point, located on the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Listed as vulnerable, this species of sea turtle has an ancestry that dates back more than 100 million years. Today they face a number of anthropogenic stresses - including entanglement in fishing gear, poaching and climate change - which affects the sex of turtle hatchlings. Sandy Point is a National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service who are responsible for protecting these nesting beaches. The combination of conservation efforts here and in the nearby Buck Island Reef National Monument have benefitted sea turtle species in this region.
I made this photo under moonlight at 2am, after weeks of working at night on these beaches. Being in this place with these ancient animals was like traveling back in time to a primordial Earth.
This picture won first place in the Reptiles and Amphibians Category of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition on October 17th in London.
Photographed for the February 2017 cover story in @natgeo about saving our oceans.
To see more ocean wildlife photos and read the stories behind them, follow me - @BrianSkerry - on Instagram.
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US Virgin Islands