On Thursday November 3rd at around 10 pm, a team of volunteers and biologists from the organisation, helped by staff from Tetiaroa Society and The Brando hotel, assisted to the emergence of 105 green turtle hatchlings. It seems to be a very succesful nesting season for green sea turtles, which started very early this year on the atoll of Tetiaroa with already more than 120 tracks recorded at the beginning of November and four hatching events observed.
For the past 10 years, the organisation has been collecting scientific data on turtle nesting on this atoll, as part of a program initiated by the Direction of the Environment. Two dead albino hatchlings had already been discovered during the excavation of nests (consisting of digging the nest 48h after emergence to collect nest data), partially decomposed. Even more exciting was the discovery of a live albino green turtle at the emergence of the nest two weeks ago. This third albino green turtle was observed coming out of her nest, alive this time but in a very weak overall state. She could not move and seemed to have difficulties to move her head to breath.
She was brought back to the sea turtle Clinic of Moorea straight away. In the past few days, she has been showing good signs of recovery : she has more energy and starts to feed by herself. She was named Hiona (« snow » in tahitian), her weight was 23 grams and she measured 5 cm. She also has abnormalities of the scute patterns on her shell, with 6 costal scutes on the right and 5 on the left instead of 4, and 8 vertebral scutes on Hiona instead of 5 for green turtles usually. Her colaoration is actually changing and getting darker on the skin.
Albino green sea turtles are very rare in the wild, with an occurance estimated at less than 1 out of 100.000 sea turtles.
These turtles hold genetic impairments resulting in the lack of melanin (color pigment). Therefore, they are thought to have reduced survival chances in the wild, by being more visible to predators and more sensitive to solar UVs.