Sea turtles hatching at Cove Bay beach

Saba became the proud “co-parent” of 37 baby turtles, Thursday, at approximately 9:00pm. In a very rare occurrence, a large female green sea turtle chose the man-made beach at Cove Bay for her nest site.

Parks Manager Kai Wulf (Left) and Saba Bank Science Officer Dahlia Hassell (right) collecting the disoriented baby turtles to release them into the sea.
Parks Manager Kai Wulf (Left) and Saba Bank Science Officer Dahlia Hassell (right) collecting the disoriented baby turtles to release them into the sea.

The beach has recently been damaged by storm waves, but by luck or instinct, the mother turtle chose a location that was not damaged and had quick and easy access to the water.

Jade Every, who was celebrating her birthday with a camping trip with family and friends at the Cove the night the eggs were laid, was thrilled to be on hand and able to see them hatch and begin their journey. The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species. Green turtles are, in fact, named for the greenish colour of their cartilage and fat, not their shells.

Green turtles are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.

The baby turtles hatched under a full moon and quickly made their way to the water, but were unfortunately distracted by some bright lights on shore from a birthday party and became disoriented and returned to the beach.

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic well-wishers, the baby turtles were carefully collected from the shore in a bucket for release.

The party organizers shut down the lights, while Parks Manager Kai Wulf and Saba Bank Science Officer Dahlia Hassell secured the turtles.

Once the babies were calmed down, they were carried onto The Cove’s breakwater, where Jelle van der Velde swam a few yards out to open sea and gently released them from the bucket.

The nest was then checked, and 20 eggs that had not hatched, were recovered undamaged. After the empty shells were removed the undamaged eggs were returned to the nest.

Wulf was hopeful they still may hatch and said “turtle watch” continues for at least one more week.

Saba Conservation Foundation asks visitors to be respectful and careful when they are at The Cove and to leave the nest alone, keep pets away and allow nature to run its course.

The Daily Herald.

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