One of the best parts of working at a sea turtle hatchery is all the babies! They seem so small and fragile. It is our job to check the hatchery at least every two hours, if not more. The reason for this is that we don't want the turtles to dry out in the hot sun. We want to allow them to crawl to the ocean as soon as possible. So once we see the turtles have all hatched in a nest, we count them by transferring them to a bucket, then record the date, time, nest code, how many babies were released and where they were released on the beach.
Sea turtles have about a 1 in 1000 chance of survival. This is why turtles lay so many eggs in one nest. A female turtle will pull herself out of the water and up onto the beach to lay her nest. She must dig a hole, lay her eggs and then get back to the water. From here, she will have no further contact with her babies and will never meet them. The eggs must survive 45-60 days without being dug up and eaten by raccoons or even humans. Once hatched, they must avoid birds and other predators and make it to the ocean. Once there, they are still not safe. Sharks and carnivorous fish wait for them there. All these things contribute to the high mortality rate of these sea turtles. Hatcheries give some help to these turtles by taking the eggs and putting them in a safe place away from raccoons and birds. The species pictured are Olive Ridley turtles. These are the only species of seven sea turtles that is not critically endangered. They are still threatened, but this particular species is making a come-back thanks to conservation efforts like the one I am helping.