In early February, a nest of 113 endangered loggerhead turtle eggs was discovered on a beach in northern New South Wales, Australia, and reported to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Because the eggs were laid late in the season, the conservationists feared that the turtles wouldn’t be able to hatch in the cold sand, so they decided to relocate them.
“We were watching the temperatures go down and down and the decision was made that the nest was going to die if we didn’t intervene and do something,” said Turtle Watch project officer Holly West.
After carefully removing each egg from the cold sand, the team transported the eggs to an incubator containing warm sand and water. Within a few weeks, 107 of the 113 eggs had hatched. “We were so excited when we got the phone call that the hatchlings had come out,” said West. “A hatch success rate of 97 percent is an amazing result for an endangered species.”
When the turtles hatched, the team weighed and measured each one of them before returning them back to the site of their nest, where they started making their way to the ocean under the supervision of the turtle experts.
“They’ll spend the next 30 years floating around in the ocean’s currents,” said West. “Sea turtles have been around since the dinosaurs, so they have all these in-built instincts. To see them hit those waves and start swimming… and for them to be able to undertake that natural process is the best part of it all.”