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One Great Shot: Herculean Hurdles for Tiny Turtles

One person’s footprint is a sea turtle hatchling’s obstacle course.

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by Jake Wilton

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green sea turtle hatchling

Green sea turtle hatchlings must make a perilous journey from nest to ocean. While scrambling across the sand and into the water, the tiny turtles must contend with countless dangers—from birds and crabs to fish and sharks. Only about one in 1,000 hatchlings completes this trek and survives to breeding age.

While visiting Heron Island, Australia, in January 2020, I set out to shoot photos on the beach and stumbled upon this scene. What captured my attention was this little hatchling struggling to navigate through sandy footprints that onlookers had left in its path. It was a perfect example of the impact humans can unintentionally have on our wildlife and ecosystems.

Though the spectators were innocently observing the newborns, they inadvertently created an extremely difficult terrain for the turtles—slowing them down, making them more vulnerable to birds, and tiring them out more than nature intended. This would put them at greater risk of being preyed on by marine species once they entered the ocean.

For me, this image is a stark and conflicting reminder that, even with good intentions, humans can still cause harm.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Jake Wilton “One Great Shot: Herculean Hurdles for Tiny Turtles,” Hakai Magazine, Nov 30, 2023, accessed June 15th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/one-great-shot-herculean-hurdles-for-tiny-turtles/.


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