Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whiter than White

We’re nearing the end of marine turtle season here at Jalova so sadly will no longer be carrying out night walks. 
We will, however, continue to do nest checks where we walk for three miles down the beach in search of fresh turtle tracks and check the nests that are scheduled for excavation.

One morning Robyn and I embarked on such a nest check and, despite the pouring rain, were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to see a nest worth of hatchlings emerging from the sand. They too were lucky to have us there to fend off the encroachment of the resident vultures. 
We walked up to the nest to check for stragglers and Robyn happened to look into one end of a large piece of bamboo that was lying on the beach a few feet from the egg chamber. I heard her exclaim, ‘Is that an albino?’ to which I replied, ‘No way!’, but as she removed the little guy from that small space and poured some water over him an astonishingly ivory white carapace and body was revealed. 

Powder, the little white turtle

My jaw nearly hit the sand beneath my feet and I scrambled to get my camera from my bag and into my poncho to keep it from being destroyed by the torrent of rain water.  I managed to get a few blurry photos and a video of the little one, whom I lovingly named Powder, before he made it to the sea and disappeared into the waves.  We then walked very quickly back to camp in anticipation and hope that I had managed to get a shot of him.

While he was not a true albino because his eyes weren’t pink, the closest anyone has come to seeing such a mutation were a number of un-hatched embryos that had a similar lack of pigment.
When we arrived back no one including myself could believe that we saw such a rare thing!

- Chris, 8 week volunteer