June 26, 2024 at 12:38 pm

Endangered Turtle Hatchlings Were Found Over 1200 Miles From Their Typical Home, And People Rushed To Save Them From An Oncoming Typhoon

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shirley Sidey, Courtesy of Janet Boxall

Seeing baby sea turtles hatch and make their way to the sea is something special that people go out of their way to witness.

For this Eastern Australian couple, though, the moment was a complete surprise – because they were so far from home.

It was Janet and Stephen Boxall who spotted a strange turtle on Campwin Beach in Queensland, Australia – one they had never seen before.

Later, they learned it was an endangered olive ridley turtle, which had never been known to nest on the eastern coast of Australia.

“It was a series of accidental discoveries. We were checking the beach for turtle tracks at 4:20 in the morning when we saw a small turtle returning to the water. We immediately noticed that it had an alternate gait, not using the breaststroke action as flatbacks and greens do.”

They couldn’t get a good picture in the low light, and at first, they thought it might have been a baby loggerhead.

“We were quite excited as they only rarely nest in our area. The nest was also unusual so we assumed at first that she did not nest but only messed around in the sand. We took extensive photos of the tracks and the nest.”

Source: Shirley Sidey, Courtesy of Janet Boxall

Sea turtles everywhere are having a hard time these days, between overfishing, plastics, and rising temperatures, but the love that humans have for them has always played in their favor.

People watch over their nests and help protect them from predators as they make their way into the ocean, and this particular clutch of olive ridley babies was no exception.

Once the Boxalls realized they could have something special on their hands they contacted Lynette Gallagher, a more experienced volunteer. Together they found an egg chamber with 90 eggs, in a nest that had been laid too close to the water.

They moved it further up the beach so they would survive the high tide, then again with a cyclone warning was issued in the area.

When they went on vacation, Janet’s sister Shirley Sidey watched over the nest and reported that 34 hatchlings made it to the water on their own. She found 12 still alive and trapped in their eggs, and helped them out and into the water.

It was when Sidey’s photographs were taken that they realized they weren’t loggerhead turtles at all, and eventually Dr Col Limpus, a leading expert on sea turtles, confirmed they were olive ridley turtles.

These turtles are known to inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, but have never been seen nesting on the eastern coast. The nearest site is south of Weipa on Queensland’s west coast, 1200 miles from Campwin.

Source: Shirley Sidey, Courtesy of Janet Boxall

Other that that, the nearest other known nesting sites are in India and the Americas.

They are the most common sea turtle in the world, but are listed as vulnerable as a species.

Experts have no way to know whether this. might be a freak event or whether there are other nests out there undiscovered.

Volunteers in the area will surely be watching for more babies.

And helping them at least start their lives off right and alive.

Thought that was fascinating? Here’s another story you might like: Why You’ll Never See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium