If you’re a nature lover (or a Finding Nemo fan), this one’s for you. Hatchlings emerged from Dauphin Island’s first green sea turtle nest on August 9, and we talked with Sara Johnson, Director of Share the Beach, an Alabama Coastal Foundation project about how special this event is. Read on for all the details.
The little green sea turtles are happy + healthy
Dauphin Island’s first green sea turtles are thriving. (Alabama Coastal Foundation)
August 9 was a historic day on Dauphin Island, but let’s back up. Before the green sea turtles hatched, they were the first to be nested on Dauphin Island. Over the years, Dauphin Island has seen a couple of green sea turtle crawls, but they’ve never recorded a nest.
According to Johnson, this nest was laid in June 18, and Alabama Coastal Foundation expected to see little green sea turtles in 55-60. However, the turtles hatched just 53 days after being laid.
“We had a lot of babies go to the water. It was a really good emergence.”Sara Johnson, Director, Share the Beach, Alabama Coastal Foundation
The nest had around 139 eggs in total, of which 133 hatchlings made it to the water.
“That’s an extremely high survival rate, which is really, really good. We are…thrilled by that.”Sara Johnson, Director, Share the Beach, Alabama Coastal Foundation
If you want to see the hatch, they caught it on video.
More green sear turtles to come on Dauphin Island
With such a variety of sea creatures at Dauphin Island, it may be surprising that there hasn’t ever been a nest of them hatch there. Johnson explained that green sea turtles’ primary diet is seagrass, and Mobile Bay doesn’t have a lot of that. Green sea turtles are much more common in Florida, where you can find lots of seagrass beds.
Their rarity on the Alabama coast makes them all the more beautiful, though. It’s hard to imagine these little guys all grown up, but green sea turtles can be 350-400 pounds. The pattern on their shells, which Johnson describes as a “sunburst pattern,” is magnificent.
“They are absolutely wonderful…They have a very distinctive pattern to their shells.”Sara Johnson, Director, Share the Beach, Alabama Coastal Foundation
Only about 1 in 1,000 sea turtles reach reproductive maturity, but the Alabama Coastal Foundation hopes that one of these 133 hatchlings will survive and, one day, return to Dauphin Island.
Until then, there’s more exciting news. Currently, there two more green sea turtle nests on Dauphin Island that they’re keeping a close eye on.
“It’s been a really, really good year…It’s a record year for a lot of sea turtle nesting.”Sara Johnson, Director, Share the Beach, Alabama Coastal Foundation
If you want to learn more about sea turtles and how you can help, we’ve got you covered.
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