A Remarkable Beginning: First Sea Turtle Spawning of the Season at Underwater Observatory Eilat
In the summer of 2023, a momentous event unfolded as part of the sea turtle reproduction and release project at the Underwater Observatory Eilat. During July, a green sea turtle meticulously laid 104 eggs on a specially designed sandy island within the turtle pool.
This sandy island was created with the primary objective of providing a sanctuary where female sea turtles could carry out their spawning undisturbed. Here, they dig a hole and lay their eggs, and with the warmth of the sun and the sand, tiny hatchlings weighing no more than 15 grams would eventually emerge.
In a heartwarming turn of events, a female sea turtle named Broria graced the island with her presence during the night, marking the initiation of the season's first nest. The following morning, in collaboration with the Nature and Parks Authority, the dedicated staff of the Underwater Observatory relocated the nest to a protected coastline. This strategic move ensures that, in approximately two months, the newly hatched terns can debut on the beach and swiftly embark on their journey into the open sea.
The chances of survival for a young sea turtle are dishearteningly slim, standing at just one in 1,000. Nevertheless, we strive to give them a secure start by providing a protected coastline where these little turtles can hatch and make their way to the sea without disruptions. Sea turtle offspring spend their formative years in the ocean, subsisting on plankton and other minute marine organisms.
It's only when they reach around 20 years of age that they attain maturity and the capacity to reproduce. Throughout their lives, adult sea turtles undertake extensive migrations, often covering considerable distances due to the divergence between their feeding and nesting areas.
Remarkably, the lifespan of sea turtles can span decades to centuries. For instance, green sea turtles like Broria, the esteemed progenitor of the season's first nest, can live an astounding 250 years!
Establishing the breeding and release project is a crucial step towards aiding the recovery of the endangered turtle population in the Red Sea. Their peril is multi-faceted, with human activities and industrialization emerging as the primary culprits.
Sea turtles are a vital component of the Red Sea ecosystem, regulating jellyfish populations and overall marine life. However, these remarkable creatures confront various threats that imperil their existence. These include beach litter, particularly transparent plastic bags that closely resemble their preferred food - jellyfish, sea pollution, overfishing, and the deterioration of turtle nesting sites.
The process of sea turtle spawning and hatching is fraught with vulnerability. Typically, sea turtles nest on beaches under cover of night, and they are susceptible to artificial light. The illumination from coastal developments can bewilder newly hatched sea turtles, potentially preventing them from reaching the sea. Once the sea turtle eggs hatch, the hatchlings must navigate various obstacles such as roads, fences, and the ever-present threat of predators.
The good news is that several actionable measures can be taken to safeguard these incredible animals. You can contribute by reducing the use of disposable items, participating in beach cleanup efforts (even if the litter isn't your own), and promoting awareness regarding the perils faced by sea turtles and the broader marine ecosystem. By registering on our website and joining the Friends of the Red Sea, you can actively engage in cleanup initiatives, educate future generations, and even have the opportunity to witness these marvelous creatures in their natural habitat.
For those keen to delve deeper into the enchanting world beneath the waves, we extend a warm invitation to visit the Underwater Observatory Park.