Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are the rarest sea turtles in the world and are critically endangered. They also usually don’t swim farther north than North Carolina. However, this year, they’ve made their way to the Empire State, hatching on the beaches of Queens.
After a long and complicated few months, 96 adorable baby turtles have hatched on the shores of Queens. In July, beach-goers on the western part of the Rockaway Peninsula noticed a turtle crawl out of the water and dig herself into the dunes. The model citizens then called the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation hotline to let them know about the potential of the new critters.
Maxine Montello, the Foundation’s rescue program director explained, ““These guys tend to strand. We see them during the winter months because of cold stunning.” (A hypothermic state that prevents them from swimming). But “this is the first time an adult was seen… actually depositing eggs in New York.”
In order to keep the little guys safe, the Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, worked to protect the freshly laid nest by building an enclosure to keep predators and people out and rangers came by to check on it every day.
Everything seemed to be going fine until September 10 when high tides and floods put the eggs in danger. Moves were made to transport the eggs to an incubator although it wasn’t clear that they would actually ever hatch after the move. Luckily last week, the eggshells started cracking.
Since it’s important that baby turtles use their energy from the hatch to swim out to deeper waters, they were immediately transported back to the beach where they originally were taken from. Of the 110 eggs that were laid, a whole 96 of them made it, swimming out into the sea this week.
Heartwarming, isn’t it?
Featured image: atlasobscura.com