An albino turtle hatchling was found by volunteers in Australia, who were looking for turtle nests.
To figure out how many green sea turtles – also known as green turtles or Pacific green turtles – have hatched and then made it into the ocean, volunteers with North Shore Coast Care and Coolum counted the empty turtle shells on Castaways Beach.
Linda Warneminde, volunteer group president, said that she and her colleagues had never seen an albino turtle before, nor had they expected to see one that day. The discovery surprised them, she added.
The hatchling looked like a normal green sea turtle, except for its colour: it had white flippers, a white shell and a hue of pink under its small flippers, according to the volunteers.
Dr. Col Limpus, chief scientist of the Queensland’s Government’s Threatened Species Unit, stated that albino turtles are incredibly rare. They only occur at a rate of one in hundreds of thousands of eggs, Dr. Limpus estimates.
Warneminde said that about one in one thousand green sea turtle hatchlings manage to make it to adulthood. They have to escape predators – such as gulls and crabs – fishing nets, an even debris in the ocean. Since albino turtles are so rare, their chances of survival are even lower, she explained.
The albino hatchling appeared to be quite energetic, and it was headed towards the ocean, the volunteers said. Despite the odds, the tiny animal seemed to be off to a good start.
When fully grown, the green sea turtles are not so small and fragile anymore, since they can weigh up to 700 pounds (about 317 kg). Their feeding ground and nesting areas are usually very far apart. Every two to four years, green sea turtles mate in shallow waters. Before laying the eggs, the female green sea turtle will go on land, and then dig a hole in the sand. A nest usually has between 100 and 200 eggs.
The newly discovered albino turtle was one of 122 other green sea turtle hatchlings found in Australia, the volunteers said. The tiny turtle managed to reach the sea, even though it was two days behind the other hatchlings.
Jayne Walton, a volunteer on the beach, said that he hopes the albino turtle survives out in the ocean.
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