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These Adorable Turtle Hatchlings Need Help - Here's How To Do Your Bit

  • beautiful turtle swimming in blue water above coral

    Turtles spend most of their lives in water, migrating for hundreds and even thousands of kilometers in search of food, mating partners, and eventually, to beaches to lay eggs. This is one of the only times that adult turtles will leave the water. Amazingly, every female turtle will return to the beach where she was born to lay her eggs, even if that means travelling hundreds of kilometers. Some people say this is done by using the earth's magnetic field, but no-one knows for sure. 

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  • big turtle resting on beach shore near water

    Once a female turtle has found the right beach, she will emerge from the water at night and make her way up the sand to find somewhere dark and quiet to lay her eggs. Once she has laid them all (50 to 200 eggs, depending on the species of turtle), she returns to the sea. The eggs take around 60 days to incubate, and when the turtle hatchlings all emerge together, it is up to them to make it to the safety of the water. Here's where the problem arises. 

  • little turtle hatchling on sand looking at lights coming from building at night

    Any human civilization close to beaches have the potential to be harmful to turtle hatchlings. This is because when turtles are "phototactic," meaning that they are attracted to light. When turtles hatch from their eggs and emerge from their nests, they instinctually follow the brightest source of light - which, in nature, is the moon shining on the ocean. They avoid shadows, for this is where predators can hide. 

  • one little turtle hatchling making its way to the ocean on sand reflecting the sky flippers making marks in sand

    If there are non-natural sources of light near beaches, including light from buildings, highways, and street lights, turtles will be drawn towards them, and possibly never reach the safe waters of the ocean. Many organisations have recruited volunteers to help steer the turtles in the right direction, as well as keeping them safe from other dangers like birds, crabs and dehydration

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  • six turtle hatchlings on sand heading towards water flippers making marks on sand

    However, these good intentions can sometimes have unintended results. People who get too close to the turtles, or take flash photos of them, can startle the hatchlings and confuse them, making them go in the wrong direction. Shining flashlights can also have the same effect. 

  • group of many turtle hatchlings heading towards ocean water on sand

    There are a few things that you can do to help turtles get to the ocean safely. 

    • During summer months, refrain from walking on the beach at night. This can scare nesting turtles back into the water, or hatchlings from emerging from their nests. 
    • Never interfere with turtle hatchlings making their way to the ocean by picking them up. This is a natural process and they need to do it, no matter how arduous the journey may seem for them.
    • If you live near the beach, turn off any outside lights, close the curtains to keep the light from reaching outside, and encourage any neighbors to do the same.
    • Never use flash photography,  video cameras or anything emitting light (even red lights), because these will all confuse the turtle hatchlings. 
    • If you see any turtle hatchlings heading in the wrong direction, don't interfere yourself. Call the nearest wildlife or environmental organisation. They will know how to keep the turtles safe. 
    • Never throw any plastic into the ocean, and reduce your use of plastic when you can! 
  • Sea turtle

    Let's do our bit to keep beautiful little creatures like this happy! 


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