Volunteers at a South Carolina beach made a surprising discovery on Sunday – a rare white sea turtle hatchling. The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol spotted the white-coloured baby turtle crawling across the sand while checking sea turtle nests on the beach.
According to a Facebook page post from the Town of Kiawah Island SC, the discovery of the rare white sea turtle excited volunteers. “You can imagine the excited ‘oohs’ and the ‘aah’s’ from the guests, including some College of Charleston students, when the patroller found a lone, leucistic hatchling in the nest,” the town said.
The baby turtle is believed to have a genetic condition called leucism, which causes animals to have reduced pigmentation. It is different from albinism, which is the complete loss of pigment.
“Leucism is a condition where animals have reduced pigmentation. Leucism is different from albinism as albino animals have a complete loss of pigment, leaving them completely white with red or pink eyes,” the town explained in its Facebook post, sharing a few pics of the baby turtle.
Take a look below:
The post has gone viral on social media, collecting over 500 ‘shares’ over the course of three days.
“Fascinating, thanks for sharing, great photos!” wrote one person in the comments section.
“The turtle is so cute,” said another.
Animals with albinism or leucism typically have a tough time surviving in the wild. Their colouring makes them stand out and be more visible to predators.
This white sea turtle was not rescued, the town clarified in the comments section as concerned comments started pouring in. When one Facebook user asked if the leucistic turtle would be able to survive on its own, they responded: “It might but the odds are stacked against it.”
“After discussion with the SCDNR, it was decided that the best course of action for the hatchling was for it to be in its natural habitat,” the town clarified.
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