It’s a life or death journey that only one out of every thousand survive. It’s the moment to sink, or to swim. This is the trek of the hatchling.
To humans, it is not a great distance from the edge of the sand to the ocean surf. To a baby sea turtle, this is the longest, most significant journey of their lives.
Sea turtles lay their eggs, and then leave them behind forever, never knowing how many, if any, of their next-gen will make it to the sea. After incubating underneath the sand, the babies will hatch, and crawl just beneath the surface in unison. When the sand temperature is just right, the hatchlings will emerge from the sand, looking for visual clues to make their way to the sea.
Meanwhile, natural predators standby waiting to feast on the disoriented hatchlings, picking off a significant portion of the hopeful swimmers.
Hatchlings use clues such as the white caps of the waves and the natural light of the horizon line to adjust their course in the right direction. This is why human lights can be so detrimental to the hatchlings trying to find the ocean; streetlights, houselights, carlights, or flashlights can distract a hatchling from its natural path.
Another issue for hatchlings is debris in their path. When a mother turtle dropped off her eggs, she probably chose a spot that was clear. Overtime with the changing tides, many different things, from seaweed to human litter, can wash up and ruin the hatchlings’ course.
Below are some images that present different angles around a single protected sea turtle’s nest. It begs the question of how these tiny hatchlings will be able to make their way to the ocean against these physical obstacles.
Think about where your trash goes. Don’t be the reason why 999 baby hatchlings won’t make it to the ocean.