TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Conservation staff rescued 29 green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchlings on Saturday (Sept. 3) out of concern that Typhoon Haikui would endanger their survival.
Although Typhoon Haikui did not inflict significant damage on Penghu County, it did bring about a high tide that affected an important nesting site for green sea turtles in Wangan Township. Conditions became difficult for 29 hatchlings to emerge on their own, prompting conservationists to rescue them, reported Liberty Times.
On July 13, female green sea turtles came ashore to lay eggs. However, on Saturday, the eve of Typhoon Haikui's arrival, staff inspected the nest and found that while the soil in the nests had loosened, there were no signs of hatchling tracks. They suspected that the hatchlings were too weak to climb out on their own, likely due to the typhoon and high tide, which led to excessive moisture in the sand covering the nest.
After consulting with the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center, the decision was made to rescue the hatchlings. The 29 turtles were initially taken to the Wangan Green Turtle Tourism and Conservation Center, before being transported by boat to the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center.
Conservation staff member removes turtles from nest. (Penghu County Agriculture and Fisheries Bureau photo)
The rescue marks the first successful hatching in the Wangan Island Green Turtle Nesting Refuge this year, but it was not the first nest laid this year. The first nests discovered were laid on the evening of June 28, but there are currently no signs of hatching from those nests. The hatch rate for the rescued nest was 85%, while monitoring of the unhatched nests will continue.
On June 28, two female turtles were found to have come ashore and laid eggs in two nests. The nesting record for one of the females can be traced back to 1995.
This mother turtle has gone through 11 to 12 nesting seasons from 1995 to 2015, returning to Wangankou Beach approximately every two to three years to lay eggs. The turtle's consistent usage of the same nesting site over the years has set a new local record.