Shark Tails through the goggles of a sea loving Zoologist

Check out our Large Marine Vertebrate Project website here!

Here are a few stills from the footage I got of a Baby Hawskbill Turtle making its way to the sea for the first time in its life (back on the 15th of June)!!  Amazing hey?!  It’s crazy to think these turtles….which are so small (just check out this one in relation to the pebbles on the beach…it was only about 5-6cm in length!) have to dig out of their nest in the sand and then start the epic journey to the sea.  Turtles navigate their way to the sea using the moonlight, so they’ll usually make this journey in the night, or just before sunrise.  This one was a bit keen (…or a bit slow, depending how you look at it) and was making it’s way to the sea around 7am in the morning.  

Unfortunately, we’ve made things a little confusing for baby turtles…what with all the resorts we build along beaches.  Their bright lights can often confuse the turtles, forcing some of them to head inland rather than to the sea.  Quite a dilemma, when you’re so small and vulnerable to all sorts of predators.  Fortunately in some places, nests laid close to resorts with bright lights are being protected, and people conducting turtle watches help make sure the turtles are given the best chance of getting to the sea - this means light restrictions etc.   

Once baby turtles have made it to the sea they’re on their own.  It’s a hard life and often many die before they even get the chance to mature.  This can be from exhaustion, some don’t hatch or just plain old predation…..

But for those that do survive, once they are sexually mature, the females among them will return to the very beach they were born on, in order to mate and reproduce and start the cycle all over again.  This is one of the main reasons turtles should be left to make their own way to the sea-they need to familiarise themselves with the beach, so that they can come back and keep the worlds population of turtles alive!!  :-) 

Go baby turtles!!

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