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Volunteer Voice: First hatchling explosion of the year

By Viki and Michelle 5 years ago
Categories Jalova

As volunteers arriving at the peak of the Green Turtle season, it is everybody’s dream to be involved with the turtles as much as possible. Two days ago, the whole group was lucky enough to witness something pretty amazing!

Just towards the end of dinner preparation, a very excited staff member came in to the kitchen yelling that key word… “hatchlings!!”. Needless to say, everybody on base stopped whatever they were doing to run the short distance up the beach to where the baby turtles were beginning to hatch from a nearby nest.

They had been spotted by Una, a 10 week volunteer, who happened to be walking the beach at the time when she first spotted a lone hatchling heading into the sea. Upon following the tracks back up the beach, she discovered the nest where a further few baby turtles were determined to emerge from the sand. After pouring a bit of sea water over the area to help wake the hatchlings up a little bit, she got word back to base that something incredible was starting. Watching them was brilliant, there were so many crawling out and running to sea in every direction we all had to be careful not to get in their way. Every time we stood up we had to check there were no hatchlings around our feet or right behind us!

The whole team enjoyed watching the magical event, taking a ton of photos while also trying to protect the hatchlings as much as possible from predators such as vultures and crabs, as well as the herd of cows which had strayed on to the beach from the forest. Once the group had stopped ooo-ing and ahh-ing like small children, the sensible conservationist in us all enabled us to identify these creatures as critically endangered Hawksbill hatchlings. This made it all the more rewarding to see virtually all of the hundred and fifty-odd individuals make it to the sea successfully.

Turtles normally lay their eggs and hatch overnight so as to avoid predators, therefore getting to see the hatchlings emerge during daylight made the whole experience even more special. Even the long-term staff here at Jalova had only ever seen nests hatching while out on Night Walk Surveys.

Needless to say, the whole experience was utterly incredible and truly memorable for every single one of us.