Local experts have given a rare albino turtle hatchling on the Great Barrier Reef island a poor chance of survival. A young green sea turtle making its way into the water was spotted this week on Lady Elliot Island, off the coast of Bundaberg in Queensland’s northeast. Hatchling green sea turtles often have a dark grey shell, greenish skin, and a white or pastel yellow undershell. This island’s unusual turtle has pink-white skin and a reddish-orange shell.
Albinism, a hereditary illness that causes the skin, hair, and eyes to look white, affects just one in 100,000 turtles. Researchers at the environmental resort turned to Instagram to emphasize how the marine critter’s illness has major consequences. ‘Current estimates of hatchling survival to adulthood are around one in 1,000,’ they posted on Instagram. ‘Unfortunately, this tiny one’s success percentage is further decreased due to poor vision and inability to hide.’
As a result of Melanin’s role in optic nerve development, the turtle’s vision suffers. Albino turtles are food for local predators, according to Jim Buck, the Island’s Ecosystem Management Officer. ‘These little guys have a hard time getting out of the nest, and if they do, they’re not well suited to the environment,’ he says.
‘We can readily see the animal, so I’m sure predators have the same advantage.’ According to him, the researchers were taken aback when they uncovered the unique discovery, which had only been documented a few times in the island’s history.
Green sea turtles are only found in a few species and are extremely endangered. According to Lady Elliot Island researchers, the southern Great Barrier Reef population has grown by 3% to 4%.