Gili Lankanfushi witnesses over 120 turtle hatchlings

Sea turtle hatchlings emerged from a nest at Gili Lankanfushi at 11pm on June 19, exactly 59 days after the resort witnessed the mother sea turtle laying her eggs. Team members at the resort tried to count the number of individuals, but due to the pace they were moving it was impossible. But it was estimated to be a sighting of 125 hatchlings!

The first hatchling emerged at 6pm and by 9pm another had joined its sibling on the top of the nest. Both turtles were extremely sleepy, but a writhing mass of hatchlings were seen beneath them. Once the outer turtles woke up and moved to one side, the rest of the nest erupted with all turtles leaving the nest in waves.

The whole emerging process only lasted a matter of minutes, as the hatchlings were intent on following the light of the moon reflecting on the ocean surface. The urge to follow their instinct was extremely strong.

The wave of turtles spanned out and each individual made their own way to the water. When the hatchlings strayed into crab holes, the resort’s team members guided them out, but other than that they wanted the whole process to happen as naturally as possible. Only red light was used to illuminate the turtles as bright white light can damage their sensitive eyes.

Green and Hawksbill sea turtles prefer to nest close to the tree line, and this nest was buried amongst tree roots in hard compacted sand. Despite this and the shallow depth of the nest, a large majority of the eggs developed into healthy hatchlings.

Four days after the hatchlings emerged, the nest was excavated in order to assess how many turtle eggs were under-developed and to give some of the slower developing hatchlings a chance to complete their growth. Of the eggs laid by the turtle, 126 empty eggs were found, which fit the resort’s estimate of 125 hatchlings well. Four unfertilised eggs — three eggs where the turtle did not develop fully and one egg where the turtle was almost fully formed but did not hatch — were found.

There was one surprise, in the form of a tiny hatchling still deep inside the nest with an overly curled front flipper. Named Flipsy by one of the in-house guests, she may have developed more slowly than the others and had not hatched with the initial wave of hatchlings.

Due to the fact she was dug from the nest alone and she had a slight deformity in her front flippers, the team members did not want to release her alone as the risk of predation was too high. The reason all the hatchlings emerge together from a nest is to reduce the likelihood of being eaten as they cross the reef as there is safety in numbers.

Instead, she was given to the turtle rehabilitation centre at the nearby Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, so she can grow into a size of 30cm in length before being released into the wild. This way, she has a higher chance of survival.

Set on the private island of Lankanfushi in the North Male Atoll, Gili Lankanfushi Maldives is an intimate coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties threading across the water out to spacious villa accommodations, where ultimate privacy can be found. This luxury resort is just a 20-minute speedboat ride from the main Velana International Airport.

At Gili Lankanfushi, an idyllic personal hideaway is one of 45 spacious, rustic overwater villas crafted from natural wood and glass. A palette of sparkling blues paints the horizon, the ocean stretching to infinity wherever on the island. The open design, with indoor and outdoor living space, allows guests the freedom to be themselves, the sound of the sea and warm breeze soothing all senses.

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