All About Turtles

Pakistan is the home to green turtles and olive ridley turtles. The time of the year has come when Karachi beaches welcome a ton of female turtles to lay eggs. Every year, these unhurried creatures come on the beach all the way from wherever they are just to lay eggs because they themselves born on the same beach! Yes! The interesting fact is, a female turtle comes all the way to the same place where it was born to lay her eggs. The nesting process is very much tiring for the female turtle, it digs a chamber to lay eggs. Digging stops when the depth of the chamber reaches the length of its outreached limb. The nesting occurs usually after sunset.

This slow animal is smart enough to dig three to four chambers and lay its eggs in one of them just to reduce the chances of being caught by the predators. Usually, the predators include stray dogs and eagles, they feed on turtles’ eggs, while plastic bags, masks, gloves and littering on the beach have disturbed the natural habitat of the marine life already.

Hawks bay and Sandspit are among those beaches of the world where turtles come and lay the eggs. A turtle lays approximately 100 to 150 eggs in a chamber and covers it with sand and goes back leaving the eggs on the mercy of predators. Number of eggs vary as per the specie, small specie typically lay few eggs (only one or two), the number of eggs increases with the body size of the turtle. In most of the species, the eggs are laid annually. Only one out of 1000 eggs survive and grows into an adult turtle.

The incubation time of the eggs varies between 45 to 75 days. An interesting fact is, the hatchlings have small, pointed bump called “Caruncle” on the top of the snout which helps them to come out of the sand after they come out of the shell and uncurl themselves. Coming out from underneath the sand is not done by a single hatchling. Several tiny hatchlings help each other and start to dig upwards to come out of the chamber. These vulnerable tiny hatchlings eat sea weed, jelly fish and fish eggs.

Another interesting fact is turtles play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment of aquatic ecosystem because of the scavenger nature and feeding on dead animals thus keeping the water purified. These species have also been used since 2737 BC in the preparation of Chinese medicines to cure some of the human diseases making these turtles endangered because of illegal trade.

It is highly recommended to enlighten yourself and your kids about the turtle hatching season. Watching these turtle hatchlings coming out of the sand making all the effort and running towards the sea waves, fighting against the odds is a treat for the sight. But it is better not to harm these little survivors who helped each other coming out of the clutch because as humans it is our responsibility to own and protect our marine life.

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