Onlookers were stunned this week to witness what was described as an “extremely rare” albino green turtle on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
The miniscule baby turtle was found by Coolum and North Shore Coast Care which is an environmental volunteer group. Its president, Linda Warneminde, said initially volunteers thought they had found an empty nest and were shocked to see the “pink-eyed, snow white” turtle emerging. She said it appeared as a normal hatchling except for its white shell and white flippers although there were also bits of pink under the flippers. ABC News reported that none of the volunteers had ever stumbled across such a creature before and were a little taken aback by what they found.
Dr Col Limpus , Queensland’s Threatened Species Unit chief scientist, agreed that such a sighting was very rare – probably only occurring in one of many hundreds of thousands of eggs laid. He said that in his time working with turtles over half a century, he had yet to see an albino recorded as a nesting turtle anywhere. This suggests that such creatures have a seriously low survival rate – only one in 1,000 green turtles manages to reach maturity.
Turtles from Queensland’s coast get into the Great Eastern current and face a whole host of dangers as they travel all the way to Chile, in South America. It is not just predators and fishing which pose problems but plastic debris as well, Ms Warneminde explained. Referring to albino turtles, Dr Limpus said that the survival rate is really low because their colour patterns don’t blend or help camouflage them in the environment in which they find themselves.