For the first time in nine years of turtle monitoring, the Coolum District Coast Care Group in Australia encountered an extremely rare albino green sea turtle.
Nicknamed Alby, the albino green sea turtle was one of the 122 hatchlings from Castaway Beach on Queensland's Sunshine Coast that are currently making the journey to the continental shelf, according to CNN and the care group.
“Our volunteers found him just under the sand when collecting the data from the hatched nest,” the Coolum District Coast Care Group Facebook page said.
The volunteers were counting empty shells to see how many turtles had made it to sea when they saw the albino green sea turtle still sitting on top of the nest.
“It is a very rare find,” group president Leigh Warneminde told CNN. “It is the first time I've seen one.”
Dr. Col Limpus of the Threatened Species Unit in Queensland told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that in his 50 years of work with turtles, he has yet to see a record of an albino as a nesting turtle anywhere in the world, suggesting their survival rate is low.
“Albino hatchlings are extremely rare,” he told ABC. “It probably occurs at the rate of one in many hundreds of thousands of eggs that are laid.
“Normally they don’t survive coming out of the nest and when they do they’re abnormal and not well suited to the environment, which means the chance of survival is very slim.
“In normal hatchlings, there's one in 1,000 that reaches maturity,” said Dr. Col Limpus.
Among the hurdles the green sea turtles of Australia face as they travel to Chile in South America are predators, plastic debris and fishing.
CNN reported that at least Alby started off strongly.
“He was quite vigorous while walking from the nest to the ocean,” Warneminde told CNN.
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