Tracks: an unsual challenge for marine turtle hatchlings

Posted on
20 April 2005
Sea turtles are endangered.

The main threats are incidental mortality in fishers' nets and hooks, destruction of nesting beaches and feeding habitats, and overexploitation for eggs, meat and shells.

Natural predators take an additional toll, particularly on eggs and hatchlings.

Only about 1 in a 1000 make it to adulthood.

On some beaches, turtle hatchlings face an additional challenge: climbing across vehicle tracks.

Many do not succeed and walk along these deadly traps, failing to find a way out to the sea.

This 3.5 minute video shows these loggerhead hatchlings struggling to cross a vehicle track on a beach in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. (Flash download version also available 7.7MB)

The conservation implications of allowing vehicle traffic on nesting beaches are a concern for WWF´s marine turtle programme. 

Production, footage and editing: Carlos Drews - WWF Marine Turtle Coordinator for LAC
Date of filming: 6th February, 2005
Location: Bangha Nek, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Species: Loggerheads (Caretta caretta)
Format: MPEG 4 (readable with Mac)  
Duration: 3 min 24 sec
Date of release: 2 April 2005
Soundtrack: no narration, original sound 
Note: the video sequence includes footage of hawksbill turtles hatching (filmed in Costa Rica). All shots of hatchlings walking portrait loggerheads in Kwazulu-Natal.