Hatchling release at the Gandoca-Manzanillo Turtle Conservation Project, Costa Rica. I had this little guy brought to me by a local fisherman who had found it trapped in a pile of driftwood, where it had probably wound up while trying to make its way to the sea after hatching out. It’s a leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), one of the most unusual species of marine turtle in the world. They are also critically endangered; through poaching, careless fishing methods that trap them in trawler nets, where they suffocate, and the loss of suitable beaches to nest on as world coastlines become more developed and polluted. Females only ever emerge onto land to nest – they lay upwards of a hundred eggs in nests dug in the sand, which they then cover over and leave for good, returning to the ocean. When the young hatch, they have to dig their way out of the nest, and then make their way to the sea without getting eaten or overheated. Despite the fact that they have an unerring instinctive sense of where the ocean is, not many of them make it.
I hope this one did. We kept him in a shaded spot until it had got a bit cooler, then let him go.