Animal behaviour: Baby leatherback turtles struggle to find the sea on dark nights


Sea turtles have to dash into the sea after they hatch, but young leatherback turtles often get lost on the way because they have relatively poor eyesight


2 June 2022

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) hatchling moving towards sea in the Caribbean

Sean Crane/Minden Pictures/

After hatching, young sea turtles embark on a harrowing dash to the sea across a predator-filled beach. But new research suggests that baby leatherback sea turtles have a difficult time determining the direction of the sea, leading them to stall more often than other turtle species and crawl in circles on the sand.

The circling was already reported in leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), but it wasn’t clear why the turtles have this problem.

Since sea-finding largely relies on night-time …

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