SINGAPORE: A hawksbill sea turtle that was rescued from a broken, unhatched egg was released back into the waters of Sisters’ Island this week, the National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore said.
The healthy baby turtle has been also microchipped so that it can be identified if it returns to Singapore’s shores in the future, the agencies said in a media release on Friday (Jan 26).
The broken egg was part of a clutch of eggs found on one of the Southern Islands by NParks employees last September. The premature hatchling inside it was barely alive and severely dehydrated.
NParks handed the hatchling to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which started treatment for it immediately, providing it with the necessary fluids. It received critical care overnight, and by morning, the hatchling had completely emerged from its egg. It weighed just 10g when it hatched.
Raised on a diet of mussels, flower crab, shrimp, squid and fish, the hatchling tipped the scales at 500g four months later.
It was also provided with "live rocks", or ocean rock with algae and other micro-organisms, an essential part of a sea turtle’s diet.
A veterinary check on Jan 3 showed that the turtle was healthy and well, and the decision was made to return it to the wild as soon as possible.
The turtle was released on the beach at Sisters' Islands Marine Park, where it scurried into the sea and started swimming immediately.
It paddled around the shallow lagoon waters for a while before making its way slowly towards the mouth of the lagoon, and finally, out to the open sea.
"The knowledge gained from the rescue and rehabilitation of the hatchling will contribute to our understanding of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and help to guide conservation efforts," NParks and WRS said.
MORE SIGHTINGS OF CRITICALLY ENDANGERED HAWKSBILL TURTLE IN 2017
18 sightings of the hawksbill sea turtle were recorded on Singapore’s shores in 2017. The figure is nearly half the 43 sightings reported between 2011 and 2016.
In 2017 alone, there were more than 500 successful hatchlings from seven separate hawksbill turtle nests, NParks and WRS said.
Many sightings were reported by members of the public, NParks and WRS said, noting that the increased number of sightings was not only an encouraging sign for the species, but also reflected heightened public awareness of the turtles.
The agencies said those who encounter a turtle should speak softly and keep their distance from it. Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it, and one should not handle the eggs as it might damage them.