Those who witness the emergence of sea turtle hatchlings and their frenzied scurry to the sea describe it as an unforgettable experience.
Tuesday night, a small group of turtle nest watchers stayed up past their bedtimes in anticipation of the magic moment when the hatchlings begin their long-odds journey to adulthood.
But this is no ordinary turtle nest.
This clutch was laid in captivity at the Cayman Turtle Centre, and translocated as part of a new initiative managing director Tim Adam said is a unique opportunity for turtle tourism.
Life in the open sea begins for a tiny turtle hatchling.
Laid as eggs in captivity at the Cayman Turtle Centre, this clutch was translocated to west bay public beach at 55 days, about a week before they leave their shells.
“Let’s say five days later they start coming out of the shells, slowly climb their way up through the column of sand, to eventually arrive at the top of the sand one night, and then they all come out and very quickly make their way into the sea,” said Mr. Adam.
Mr. Adam told Cayman 27 the Cayman Turtle Centre has been translocating captive-bred nests into the wild for three years.
He called it a unique tourism opportunity.
“Nowhere else in the world can tell you that on a certain month, you are going to have a turtle nest in a certain location. Nobody else can do that,” said Mr. Adam. “If we collaborate with the beachfront accommodations they can tell their guests on this week, on this month, we are going to have a turtle nest on our beach.”
To protect these nests, the Cayman Turtle Centre employs turtle watchers. They monitor the nests and report any signs of change to the Cayman Turtle Centre. When the time is near, the information goes out to a newly-created turtle nest watch Whatsapp group.
“We even talk occasionally about what is happening with the siblings that we’re watching at the turtle center, to give an idea what to expect,” said Mr. Adam.
Cayman Turtle Centre scientists keep a close eye on captive eggs from the same clutch for clues the magic moment is soon come, because as any turtle nest watcher will tell you, the waiting is the hardest part.
Mr. Adam says a second nest at West Bay Public Beach could emerge any night now, and another nest at Governor’s beach is on schedule to emerge sometime next week.
If you’re interested in being in the know for future hatchling emergences, get added to this Whatsapp group: send an email with your name, and most importantly your Whatsapp number including country code to firstname.lastname@example.org.