Volunteers with the nonprofit Coolum & North Shore Coast Care in Queensland, Australia, captured a rare treat on camera over the weekend. A group on Castaways Beach in Queensland, Australia, was collecting data from what was believed to be a completely hatched green sea turtle nest. That`s when a tiny straggler appeared underneath the sand.
To the amazement of volunteers, who snapped the above photographs, the solo hatchling was an albino green sea turtle. Coolum & North Shore Coast Care has never recorded an albino sea turtle in its nine years of monitoring local populations, the group posted to its Facebook page. The group observes beaches where turtles nest from November to March, often protecting nests with mesh to stop predators, and occasionally, moving nests threatened by extreme weather, erosion or other factors, according to the group`s website.
“Alby,” as the creature was named, was one of 122 hatchlings from Castaways Beach this weekend, according to the group. Volunteers watched as Alby “made his/her way across the dunes into the ocean,” where the hatchling will journey toward the Continental Shelf.
Green sea turtles — the largest species of sea turtle — are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund, due to overharvesting of eggs, hunting of adult sea turtles and a loss of nesting beach sites. Only 1 in 1,000 green sea turtle hatchlings will survive to adult breeding age, Coolum & North Shore Coast Care states on its website.
The recessive gene that causes albinism can make it harder for wild animals to survive, weather.com reported in 2013, in part because albino animals lack their natural camouflage, making them an easy target for predators. Albino animals also lack some natural protection from the sun`s harsh ultraviolet rays.