Marine Biology Camp

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Night Time Sea Turtle Hatching

With our network of Sea Turtle preservation organizations we are always on standby should one of our local early season nests hatch. Unlike baby alligators, which are liberated from their nest by their mother, sea turtle hatchlings must do it all themselves. To break open their shells, hatchlings use a temporary, sharp egg-tooth, called a "caruncle." The caruncle is an extension of the upper jaw that falls off soon after birth. Digging out of the nest is a group effort that can take several days. Hatchlings usually emerge from their nest at night or during a rainstorm when temperatures are cooler. Once they decide to burst out, they erupt from the nest cavity as a group. The little turtles orient themselves to the brightest horizon, and then dash toward the sea.

If they don't make it to the ocean quickly, many hatchlings will die of dehydration in the sun or be caught by predators like birds and crabs. Once in the water, they typically swim several miles offshore, where they are caught in currents and seaweed that may carry them for years before returning to near shore waters. There are many obstacles for hatchlings in the open ocean. Sharks, big fish, and circling birds all eat baby turtles. Many also die after accidentally eating tar balls and plastic garbage. The obstacles are so numerous it is a miracle that they survive to reproduce.

Our camp directors and office staff will be on constant standby during your time at Sea Turtle Camp should any of the known nests appear to begin hatching. The timing is usually somewhat predictable so the early season nests will have volunteers watching in anticipation each night within their hatching window. They keep predators at bay, and keep any artificial lights in the surrounding areas down or off. Once hatched, they may even set up a safe-path to lead the little hatchlings straight down to the ocean where they must then fend for themselves. We may have the opportunity to sit in on one of these night watches or even help the little guys get to their new home in the great blue ocean.


Support Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation

Please help us continue to protect and conserve the remaining species of Sea Turtles. Through education and public awareness we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the natural wonder of these magnificent marine species.

Please consider giving a membership to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital Foundation for birthdays and other special occasions.

Thank you for your interest and support.

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