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Rare Albino Turtle Hatches On Australian Beach

Feb 09, 2016 04:21 PM EST
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An extremely rare albino turtle was recently spotted on a beach in Australia by environmental volunteer group Coolum and North Shore Coast Care. The tiny creature, subsequently dubbed Alby, was the last of 122 hatchlings from a green turtle nest on Castaways Beach on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

"It looked like a normal turtle hatchling, except that it had a white shell and it had little white flippers, and you could see a little bit of pink under its flippers," Linda Warneminde, Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, told Australia's ABC. "None of us had ever experienced or seen anything like that before, so we were all a little bit taken aback."

The hatchling's late start came two days after the rest of its siblings had already headed to the ocean. Warnerminde said they were counting the empty eggshells to get an idea of how many green sea turtles had hatched when they found the straggler lying on its back. 

Despite its pale tone, which is from a lack of pigmentation, Alby appeared to be healthy, measuring about five centimeters across, and vigorous while walking from the nest to the ocean. Like many of his siblings, however, Alby's future is quite bleak. Only one in 1,000 green turtles will survive to maturity, and Alby's chances are likely even slimmer with his inability to camouflage to his surroundings, Warneminde explained.

"Albino hatchlings are extremely rare; it probably occurs at the rate of one in many hundreds of thousands of eggs that are laid," Dr. Col Limpus, Queensland's Government's Threatened Species Unit chief scientist, added. "Normally they don't survive coming out of the nest and when they do they're abnormal and not well suited to the environment, which means the chance of survival is very slim."

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