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The Great Hatchling Race

Posted: September 28, 2020

The scene is set.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here on Grand Anse, and our competitors are waiting out the afternoon heat beneath a cool layer of carefully placed sand. They’ve been waiting for this day for two months, now, and are eager to get going. The sand cracks and crumbles with the pressure of approximately one hundred and fifty tiny sets of flippers. The crowd holds its breath as the sand buckles once, twice, three times…

… AND THEY’RE OFF!

The fan favourites, Shiny and Forrest, burst out of the gate at speed, the latter holding a fair lead for the first half metre or so of their dash. Behind them, the rest of the hatchlings crowd the beach in their mad dash towards the finish line – the sparkling blue sea, still a good ten metres of open ground away. It’s a race against time to reach their destination, and it shows in the frantic slaps of their flippers as they wiggle towards safety.

Forrest’s lead is quickly dwindling as Shiny closes the gap between them, picking up speed with every centimetre of ground he covers. The two brothers seem to be neck and neck, but – oh! What’s this?! Forrest finds his way suddenly blocked by a seemingly insurmountable piece of driftwood! To a person, it’s hardly an obstacle, but to a Hawksbill turtle hatchling only a few centimetres long, the driftwood could put him out of the race for good.

Forrest (as his name might imply) is a stubborn little fellow, though, and won’t be thwarted that easily. With a surprising amount of dexterity for a set of limbs that are designed for swimming through the ocean as opposed to manoeuvring on land, he pushes and pulls and clambers over the top of the debris. Every second that he spends out here in the sun increases the chance of overheating or getting picked off by a predator (like a bird or crab), so time is of the essence. His brothers and sisters have nearly caught up with him by now, but just before he gets washed away by the tide of their passing, he clears the driftwood and sets off again.

Shiny has a good metre on him now, but Forrest won’t be dissuaded. With his momentum he practically tumbles down the smooth white sand of the beach, inching ever closer to the relative safety of the water. When Shiny finally hits the edge of the waves, his brother is only a hair’s length behind him, and together, they’re pulled out to sea. The rest of the crowd follows, not a single casualty among them, and a new generation of Hawksbill turtles can finally begin their lives in earnest.

Do you want to help in our conservation efforts to protect and understand the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle and the endangered Green turtle? Come and join us on one of out volunteer programs! Find out more at: https://www.gvi.co.uk/location/volunteer-in-curieuse/

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