Today (23 May) is World Turtle Day. Usually, a day that would pass by as any other for me, as a Polar photographer, I don’t encounter turtles too often. However, during my last trip across the Atlantic Ocean, we saw several turtle swimming in the ocean. But one of the absolute highlights was our visit to the Green Turtles on the beach at Ascension Island. First, we visited the beach in the early night and saw some female turtles depositing eggs. A couple of hours later we returned in the hope to see hatchlings make their first journey to the ocean. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, but we had great views of several exhausted females returning to the water after a long night depositing eggs on the beach.
This female will come back a few more times this year to deposit more eggs and then she will go back to the open ocean and can make long migrations. About 50-70 days later these eggs will hatch, and the dangerous journey over the beach to the sea will start for these little turtles. Many of them will not make it and will be eaten by the patroling Ascension Frigatebirds. In the water, life isn’t much better. Many species predate on these small animals, and it is estimated that only 1% of all the turtles born will make it back to the beach to reproduce themselves.