Baby olive ridley sea turtles found hatched in Thailand, first discovery in 23 years

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Phang Nga – Sixty-eight baby olive ridley sea turtles have hatched on a beach in the southern coastal province of Phang Nga and safely made their way into the Andaman Sea, following a 23-year absence.

The Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), Jatuporn Buruspat, said the department received a report from its office in Phang Nga that 68 out of 81 olive ridley sea turtle eggs survived.

The hatching happened on March 20th, at approximately 10:30 p.m. Officials had guided these baby turtles to the sea during the high tide.

Jatuporn said the sea turtle eggs, which are buried under the sand, will hatch under suitable temperatures between 25 and 34 degrees Celsius.

He said any movement of the eggs after the start of embryo development, usually after six to 12 hours after they are laid, must be made with utmost care. Young olive ridley sea turtles can reach an average weight of 4.5 kilograms in 22 months. They will reach their reproductive stage at the age of eight to 12 years.

Olive ridley sea turtles, or Lepidochelys olivacea, are small turtles with a maximum length of 60 to 70 centimeters and a maximum weight of 30-40 kilograms. These turtles have a very hard olive green or brown shell in the shape of overlapping scales resembling metal roofing sheets. They have strong and sharp teeth as they usually prey on other shelled animals. They can swim at speeds up to 35 kilometers an hour.

The turtles are found more commonly in the Andaman Sea and fewer in the Gulf of Thailand. The population of these turtles is very small in Thai waters. They are listed as a protected species according to the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535.

The DMCR Director-General also encouraged public members and business operators to help protect marine resources by refraining from littering beaches and ocean, avoiding discharging waste water into the sea, reducing illegal fishing, reducing the construction of environmentally affecting accommodations, and changing perception on some beliefs which may damage the environment.