Letter | Published:

Mechanism of Nocturnal Emergence from the Nest in Green Turtle Hatchlings

Naturevolume 214page317 (1967) | Download Citation



IT has been known for many years1 that hatchling green turtles (Chelonia mydas (Linn.)) almost all emerge from the nest after dark. Moorhouse referred to hatchlings which emerged during the day usually burying themselves again, and noted that the few which attempted to reach the water were invariably taken by gulls and herons. Hendrickson2 has pointed out that nocturnal emergence has marked survival value, because during the heat of the day surface sand temperatures would be rapidly lethal to hatchlings and the danger of predation is much greater during the day. He wrote: “It is believed that, upon encountering temperatures much above about 33° C, the hatchlings cease activity in their escape chamber, resuming active movements only when lower temperatures return with the fall of night”.

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  1. 1

    Moorhouse, F. W., Rep. Great Barrier Reef Committee, 4, 1 (1933).

  2. 2

    Hendrickson, J. R., Proc. zool. Soc., 130, 455 (1958).

  3. 3

    Carr, A., Animal Behaviour, 9, 68 (1961).

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  1. Department of Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra



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