Critically endangered hawksbill turtle seen laying eggs at East Coast Park

Critically endangered hawksbill turtle seen laying eggs at East Coast Park

Hawksbill turtle laying eggs at East Coast
A hawksbill turtle was seen laying eggs at East Coast Park on Aug 23, 2017. (Photo: NParks)

SINGAPORE: A hawksbill turtle was spotted laying eggs at East Coast Park on Wednesday (Aug 23) night, in a second sighting of the critically endangered marine animal in two weeks.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said its officers rushed down after a member of the public tipped them off about the rare sight. It also shared a video of the process on social media. 

“Alerted by a member of the public, NParks officers observed a hawksbill turtle about to lay her eggs along the shores of East Coast Park,” NParks posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

NParks said its officers were at the scene to monitor and document the process. They also kept the area dark and quiet while the turtle was looking for a nesting site.

Once the turtle found a place to lay its eggs, a light was shone from its back to film the process and for data collection. The turtle laid a total of 141 eggs, NParks said.

Its eggs have been moved to a quieter spot, NParks said in an update on Thursday.

When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings will make a precarious journey from the nest to the sea. The babies navigate by heading in the brightest direction which, in the absence of artificial light, is the view of the night sky over the sea. They can thus be confused by bright lights in urban environments.

NParks added that it found the original nest was in a "high risk" area and moved the eggs to a location with less foot traffic and low light pollution.

"We will continue to monitor the eggs closely," it said.

Last Wednesday, turtle hatchlings were seen trying to make their way to the sea at East Coast Park.

They were befuddled by bright lights and got some help from NParks officers, who moved them to a more suitable location.

Singapore waters are home to two types of turtles – the green turtle and the hawksbill.

While the turtles have been known to come ashore to lay eggs at East Coast Park, it is rare to observe an animal in action.

Members of the public who see turtles can call NParks at 1800-4717300. The agency urged the public to speak softly and to keep their distance when a turtle is sighted.

“Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. Handling the eggs may damage them, or introduce bacteria into the nest.”

Source: CNA/hm