BY GISELE-GALOUSTIAN | 12/19/2017
If everything goes as planned, a newly hatched sea turtle should be able to crawl from its nest to the ocean in a couple of minutes. This trek happens in the first 24 hours when they emerge from their nests and is referred to as the “frenzy” period. Just like biathletes, these hatchlings sprint from the beach to the surf and then swim a long distance to reach their home. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as nature planned.
Scientists believe that sea turtle hatchlings have an innate instinct that guides them toward the brightest low horizon and away from tall dark silhouettes, which orients them toward the ocean’s surf. However, excess lighting from the nearshore buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land, where they may be eaten by predators, run over by roadway traffic, or drown in swimming pools. Baby sea turtles have about a 50 percent chance of getting to their destination in urban settings where there is this disorientation or misorientation from artificial lighting. Because the “frenzy” period is a group activity and there is safety in numbers, being separated from the crowd also puts them at further risk.
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