Turtle hatchlings make perilous journey from sandy nest to sea

In Local
April 01, 2024



KARACHI:

Green marine turtles’ breeding season came to end at the Hawke’s Bay with the advent of early summer in the city on the shore of the Arabian Sea.

However, the Sindh Wildlife Department Marine Turtle Conservation Unit helped 14,960 hatchlings embark on a new journey of life. At least 16 female turtles visiting the coastal areas of Karachi were also tagged.

After hatching, the baby turtles that survive the perilous journey to reach the ocean are called “Great Survivors”, said SWD Chief Conservator Javed Mehr talking to The Express Tribune. The breeding season of marine turtles on the coast of Hawke’s Bay is from September to February every year, he said.

It is feared that future generations may read about these turtles only in books. PHOTO: EXPRESS

It is feared that future generations may read about these turtles only in books. PHOTO: EXPRESS

According to Mehr, a total number of turtles visiting the shores of Hawke’s Bay in 2023-24 was 530. Among them, 270 green turtles went back to the sea, while 260 females stayed to choose a place, dig a hole and lay eggs.

Similarly, SWD Marine Turtle Conservation Unit took measures to protect 260 nests and keep them safe from wild animals. At least 14,960 turtle hatchlings that came out from these eggs were kept in protective care were helped to safely embark on the journey of a new life to the sea.

Read also: Green turtles fight to survive against Pakistan’s urban sprawl

According to Mehr, 16 female turtles visiting the beaches of Karachi were also tagged. It should be noted that due to hard work and efforts of staff at Sindh Wildlife Marine Turtle Conservation Unit millions of hatchlings have been sent on their long journey to the sea since 1970.

Baby turtles that survive the perilous journey to reach the ocean are called 'Great Survivors'. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Baby turtles that survive the perilous journey to reach the ocean are called ‘Great Survivors’. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Female green turtles migrate from deep sea to shores of Hawke’s Bay and Sandspit to lay their eggs, digging trenches in the soft sand and leaving. The day the babies hatch, mother is not there to protect them. As soon as they hatch from the eggs, baby turtles head to the sea and it is beginning of the perilous journey.

Predators, including stray dogs and birds devour many hatchlings before they reach the water, and after hitting the water, marine life too finds the hatchlings a tasty diet, Javed Mehr said adding a minor percentage of the hatchlings survives to grow up and are thus called “Great Survivors”.

Turtles have an important part in the ecosystem, Mehr said, adding, these useful companions of man have been unable to defend their breeding sites on the shores of Hawke’s Bay and Sands Pit for centuries. It is feared that future generations may read about these turtles only in books. In the backdrop of global climate change, the planet’s biodiversity is under threat and action is needed with the participation of all stakeholders.

Turtles have an important part in the ecosystem. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Turtles have an important part in the ecosystem. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2024.

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