Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday 10/21/2020
After an adult female sea turtle nests, she returns to the sea, leaving her nest and the eggs within it to develop on their own. The amount of time the egg takes to hatch varies among the different species and is influenced by environmental conditions such as the temperature of the sand. The hatchlings do not have sex chromosomes so their gender is determined by the temperature within the nest. The temperature varies slightly among species, ranging between roughly 83-85 degrees Fahrenheit (28-29 degrees Celsius), at which embryos within a nest develop into a mix of males and females. Temperatures above this range produce females and colder temperatures produce males. It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. Once near the surface, they will often remain there until the temperature of the sand cools, usually indicating nighttime, when they are less likely to be eaten by predators or overheat. Once out of the nest, hatchlings face many predators including ghost crabs, birds, raccoons, dogs, and fish. Hatchlings use the natural light horizon, which is usually over the ocean, along with the white crests of the waves to reach the water when they emerge from the nest. Any other light sources such as beachfront lighting, street lights, light from cars, campfires etc. can lead hatchlings in the wrong direction, also known as disorientation. Sea turtle hatchlings eat a variety of prey including things like molluscs and crustaceans, hydrozoans, sargassum sea weed, jellyfish, and fish eggs.