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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

‘Truly peculiar’: loggerhead turtles born in most northern spot ever recorded

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Eggs that were laid on a sandy beach in northern Italy by a loggerhead sea turtle, or Caretta Caretta, have hatched in what scientists describe as an “exceptional” event possibly brought on by global heating. It was the first time that the hatching of Caretta Caretta sea turtle eggs had been recorded along the northern Adriatic coast.

Nine sea turtles were born on Wednesday night on the beach in Jesolo, a popular seaside resort close to Venice where their mother had deposited 82 eggs, about 25 metres from the sea, overnight on 9 July.

“This is the most northern nesting spot in the world, a truly peculiar geographical location,” Sandro Mazzariol, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Padua and coordinator for Cert, an emergency response team for marine animals, told La Repubblica.

A protective barrier had been put up around the nest in order to protect it from beachgoers, while volunteers from animal rights groups kept vigil day and night.

The newborn turtles emerged from their eggs within 10 to 15 minutes, a few days after the expected 60 days of incubation had ended.

The turtles weighed between 12 and 14 grams, while their upper shells were about 5cm long.

Experts created a protective path of sand that enabled the reptiles to walk towards the sea. “The instinctive walk towards the sea is fundamental for the species because it helps them to memorise where the beach is, allowing the females to return to lay their eggs where they were born,” Diego Cattarossi, the scientific director of the Tropicarium zoological park in Jesolo, told the local newspaper, Il Mattino di Padova.

Scientists are now trying to understand why the nesting occurred in Veneto.

“Tuscany is a common place for nesting, and two years who it happened in Pesaro [in the central Marche region], and this year in Veneto. We are trying to work out the phenomenon,” added Mazzariol. “The warming sea temperature is one theory. I’m not saying it’s the cause but it could be one of the factors to explain why this is happening.”

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