Great frigatebirds swoop in to carry off green sea turtle hatchlings that have made the mistake of erupting from the nest in the daylight rather than waiting for darkness. Green sea turtle hatchlings face a very daunting array of obstacles to make it to adulthood and in fact a very small percentage ever do.
It is April 1st here on Ascension Island in the middle of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and green sea turtle eggs are strewn across the beach from last night's nesting activities. Ascension Island is one of the most important green sea turtle nesting sites in the Atlantic, with so many female turtles coming ashore in the night that they sometimes will accidentally dig up eggs from another clutch.
This green sea turtle hatchling has spent just under 2 months incubating in the warm sands of Ascension Island before erupting from the nest and crawling to the sea. If it survives all the challenges of making it to adulthood (and very few do), it will return to this very beach to mate and possibly crawl ashore to dig her own nest. Interestingly the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtle, with warmer temperatures creating females while cooler sand temperatures will make a hatchling a male.
Green sea turtle tracks leading from the nesting site of an adult female on Ascension Island. Female green sea turtles may lay as many as 100 eggs at a time, and will usually lay several clutches of eggs throughout the nesting season.