Volunteers from South Carolina checking on sea turtles on Sunday made a surprise discovery when they discovered an extremely rare sea turtle hatchling.
The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol found a lone white baby sea turtle dragging itself across the sand.
The town of Kiawah Island posted the discovery on Facebook, and this is what they wrote about it:
“You can imagine the excited ‘oohs’ and the ‘aah’s’ from the guests, including some College of Charleston students, when the patroller found alone, leucistic hatchling in the nest.”
What’s So Special?
The hatchling is thought to have a genetic condition known as leucism, which results in reduced pigmentation in animals.
“Leucism is different from albinism as albino animals have a complete loss of pigment, leaving them completely white with red or pink eyes,” the town added.
Sea turtles with leucism feature black eyes and little amounts of pigment on their skin.
Photos posted by the town depict the tiny turtle covered in a creamy white color instead of the regular gray or green you’d see on a typical sea turtle.
The condition of the hatchling is infrequent, and researchers haven’t yet determined how often the phenomenon happens in the wild.
The Olive Ridley Project, a sea turtle conservation group, claims that sea turtles with leucism usually have a tough time staying alive because of their lack of camouflage, making them prone to being detected by fierce predators.
Sea turtles usually spend the first few months of their lives hiding under groups of seaweed in the ocean, growing as fast as they can, because their size is directly proportional to how predator-proof they are.