A rare albino turtle that has hatched on the Great Barrier Reef island has been given a slim chance of survival by local specialists.
Lady Elliot Island, off the coast of Bundaberg in Queensland’s northeast, was the site of an unusual sight this week: a newborn green sea turtle making its way into the ocean.
Green sea turtle hatchlings often have a dark grey shell, greenish skin, and a white or pastel yellow undershell.
This rare turtle on the island has pink-white skin and a reddish-orange shell.
Only one in 100,000 turtles are born with albinism, a genetic disease that causes the skin, hair, and eyes to appear white.
Researchers at the environmental resort took to Instagram to highlight how the condition of the marine critter has serious implications.
‘Current estimates of survivorship of hatchlings maturing to adulthood are about one in 1,000,’ they wrote on Instagram
‘Unfortunately, the success rate of this little one is also further reduced due to low sight and the inability to camouflage.’
As a result, the turtle’s eyesight is hampered because of Melanin’s function in optic nerve growth.
According to Jim Buck, the Island’s Ecosystem Management Officer, albino turtles are the prey of local predators.
‘These little guys they struggle to get out of the nest and if they do they’re not well suited to the environment,’ he said.
‘We can see the animal quite easily so I’m sure predators would have the same advantage.’
According to him, the researchers were stunned when they discovered the unusual find, which had only been recorded a few times in the island’s history.
There are just a few species of green sea turtles, and they’re critically endangered.
Researchers on Lady Elliot Island said the southern Great Barrier Reef population has expanded by 3% to 4%.