What’s wrong with this sea turtle hatchling picture?

So, what’s wrong with this sea turtle hatchling picture?

First some background:

On February 26, 2012, 79 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) hatched in Punta Banco, Costa Rica. They were released by Jose Cortez, a local sea turtle naturalist, and photographed by a volunteer of the Costa Rican Environmental and Educational Network—ARCAE.  Green sea turtles are an endangered species and while Punta Banco is home to a 17 year old olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtle conservation project, green turtles have never been studied in detail until now.

 

Nesting leatherback sea turtle, Caletas, Costa Rica (foto: Jeff Kutz)

ANSWER: The photo of the hatchlings was taken using a white light. Turtles should not be photographed like this because the light can disorient them. We’re very fortunate to have volunteers who immediately send us pictures like this one right after important events, and we’ll let them know to please use only a red light to photograph both turtle hatchlings and adults in the future.  We’re happy to report that all 79 hatchlings made it into the sea.  We did a good thing—and we’ll do even better next time.

 The following is a picture of a nesting leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) taken with a red light.  This is an example for all sea turtle photography at night.

For more information on sea turtles in Costa Rica, please contact Andy Bystrom a.bystrom@arcae.org

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