Sea turtles are majestic creatures of the sea. They spend their whole life in the water and only come to the shore to lay eggs. If you visit the seashores during the sea turtle egg-hatching season, you may be lucky to watch baby sea turtles emerging from the nests. So, when do sea turtle eggs hatch?
Female sea turtles lay eggs during the warmer months of the year. They build nests on the seashore and leave. Then it takes two months for the baby sea turtles to hatch from the eggs.
In this article, I will tell you when sea turtle eggs hatch and how and where you can see baby turtles making their epic journey to the sea. To know when sea turtles hatch, first, you should know when sea turtles lay eggs.
When Do Sea Turtles Lay Eggs?
Female sea turtles return to their birthplace to lay eggs after mating with male turtles. Most sea turtles lay eggs around April to September. They build their nest during this time because the temperature is warmer to incubate eggs.
However, the nesting season can vary depending on the species of sea turtle and geographical location. For example, the weather is hot all year round in the tropics, so sea turtles in the tropics can lay eggs all year round. Sea turtles in the South Hemisphere lay eggs from October to February as the temperature is high during these months.
Where Do Sea Turtles Lay Eggs?
Female sea turtles come out of the ocean at night to the seashores. Most sea turtles return to their birth ground to build their nests. They find the dark and relatively safe to search for a nesting site. After choosing a nesting site, sea turtles use their back flippers to dig a deep egg chamber. Then they lay eggs and bury them under the sand.
They choose a nesting site warm enough to hatch a balanced number of male and female hatchlings. If the temperature is high, there will be more females than males. After burying the eggs, sea turtles leave the nest right away. It is not because they are cruel mothers. They leave the nest so that they do not attract predators to the nesting grounds.
When Do Sea Turtle Eggs Hatch?
The incubation period of most sea turtle eggs is 50 to 70 days. The temperature must be warm for baby sea turtles to hatch in two months. Baby sea turtles typically hatch between 9 pm to 5 am. Different species of sea turtles lay eggs at different times. Hence, the eggs also hatch at different times around the world.
For example, leatherbacks lay eggs in Florida between March to August. So, baby leatherbacks should hatch between May to October. Loggerhead sea turtles nest in June, and the nesting period lasts till late July. So, the hatching happens in August and September.
Then there are Kemp’s Ridleys nesting in Texas’s Gulf Shores between March to May. The Hatchlings emerge from the nests in late May or early July. Green and hawkbill turtles come to the remote shores of the Parthenian Islands of Malaysia to lay eggs in late April to June. The hatchlings break free from the eggs in late June and August.
As you can see, the time of sea turtle hatching is different. But most sea turtle eggs hatch in summer when the weather is warm.
What Happens After Baby Sea Turtles Hatch?
When it is time to hatch, baby sea turtles use their egg tooth to break free from the eggs. Then they slowly dig through the sand to the surface. A baby sea turtle takes 3 to 7 days to come out from the nest. All the hatchlings emerge at nearly the same time from the nest and begin their journey toward the sea.
How Do Sea Turtles Reach The Ocean?
Most baby sea turtles hatch at night time. It is best for baby sea turtles to hatch at night, as most predatory animals sleep during that time.
Many people wonder how baby sea turtles find their way to the sea. Baby sea turtles follow a few cues to reach the sea. The slop of the shore, the white crests of the wave, and the horizon light of the sea guide them toward the water.
After emerging from the nest, the hatchlings get into a frenzy to reach the water. Their instincts tell them it is dangerous to stay on the land, and they must go to the water to survive.
But not all hatchlings are lucky enough to reach the sea. They are attacked by crabs, raccoons, and ants. During day time, their worst enemies are the seagulls and other predatory birds. Researchers say that only 1 out of 1000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.
Can You Watch Baby Sea Turtles Hatch?
Do you know a female sea turtle can lay over 200 eggs in a single nest? A female sea turtle can lay 2 to 8 clutches of eggs in a single season. Imagine watching thousands of hatchlings coming out of hundreds of nests! Luckily, you can visit some spots where you can see baby sea turtles being released from their nests.
However, you must be cautious while visiting sea turtle nesting grounds while visiting sea shores during hatching season.
Where Can You Watch Sea Turtles Hatch?
Want to see adorable baby sea turtles heading to the sea? You can also help the babies reach the ocean safely. Here are some of the popular sea turtle nesting spots in the world:
1. Padre Island, Texas
The Padre Island National Seashore, located off the coast of South Texas, is one of the best places to watch sea turtle hatchlings. Padre Island is the safe haven for multiple species of sea turtles.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles visit the shoreline in South Texas more than anywhere else in the world. The island is also visited by Loggerheads, green, leatherbacks, and hawkbill sea turtles. Different organizations and volunteers work to keep the nests safe. They also make sure the hatchling can reach the sea safely.
You can contact organizations and volunteers to see hatchlings while they release them. Kemp’s ridleys are usually released in late May through August. You can check the website of Padre Island National Seashore for more details.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: May to August
2. Melbourne Beach, Florida
Florida has the most beautiful sea beaches in the US. Hundreds of leatherbacks, loggerheads, and green turtles visit the shore of Melbourne Beach, Florida, every year to build their nests. The state of Florida plays a significant role in conservating sea turtles of the Northern Atlantic Ocean.
On Florida beaches, most sea turtles lay eggs between Early May and late October. So, the eggs hatch between July and December.
Nature lovers can watch a public hatching release or take permitted public turtle walks at Archie Carr National Wildlife Rescue, Melbourne. There are also houses and rehabilitation centers for sea turtles in Florida.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: July to December
3. Isle of Palms, South Carolina
If You want to watch sea turtle hatching in South Carolina, visit Isle of Palms. The vast sandy beach, clean water, and natural wildlife make the place a much sought-after destination for locals and tourists.
A group of licensed people is always active in helping the loggerhead sea turtles arrive at the shores. You can contact one of the Turtle Teams to find out when and where they release hatchlings from the nests.
Nesting time is typically between May and Mid-August. You can see baby loggerheads between June and October. So, plan your visit to the Isle of Palms during these months.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: June to October
4. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
If you want to attend a baby sea turtle release with your family, visit Puerto Vallarta. Sea turtle liberation programs are held almost daily during the hatching seasons in Puerto Vallarta. You can become a part of the sea turtle release and help the baby sea turtles reach the water safely.
Banderas Bay is one of the most important beaches in the world for sea turtle conservation. Every year, hundreds of Oliver ridleys come to the shores of the beach to lay eggs. After 45 to 60 days of incubation, the eggs hatch. Then the baby sea turtles are released between August and December.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: August to December
5. Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Tortuguero National Park is located in the Limon Province of Costa Rica. The literal meaning of Tor Tortuguero is ‘Land of Turtles.’ So, it is no surprise that the national park on the northern Caribbean coast is a sanctuary for sea turtles. In fact, it is the most critical sea turtle nesting site in the western hemisphere.
Green, leatherbacks, hawkbills, and loggerhead sea turtles come to Tortuguero every year to build hundreds of nests on the coasts of Costa Rica. Baby sea turtles of different species are released every year from July to October and March to May. You can visit Tortuguero National Park and help volunteers keep the nests and hatchlings safe.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: July to October and March to May
6. Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Want to do more than watch baby sea turtles hatching? Then you should visit Tioman Island lying off the east coast of the Peninsula, Malaysia, in the South China Sea. There you can take part in the Juara Turtle Project. The project runs many volunteer-based projects to manage pollution and threats affecting sea turtles.
The volunteers work to protect sea turtle nests, educate the local community, and research various topics related to sea turtles. The turtle hatching season in Tioman Island is between March and October. You can join a group of volunteers for turtle hatching and conservation.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: March to October
7. Kosgoda, Sri Lanka
Green sea turtles are the most common to visit the west and south coast of Sri Lanka. They lay their eggs on the soft, sandy shores of Kosgoda. Other species of sea turtles nest on Sri Lankan shores, but that’s a very rare incident.
The sea turtle hatching season in Sri Lanka is from November to May. The Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project has been running a sea turtle hatchery for 30 years. Visitors can join the project and work as volunteers.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: November to May
8. Greek Islands
Greek Islands are famous for their mesmerizing beauty. Thousands of tourists visit the Greek islands every year. Apart from sunbathing and snorkeling, you may be lucky enough to watch baby sea turtles hatching and releasing on Greek islands.
Many organizations like the Archelon work to preserve various coastal areas and Islands of Greece for the sea turtle population visiting there. They also give volunteering opportunities to visitors. The hatching season lasts from August to October.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: August to October
9. Iztuzu, Turkey
Iztuzu beach, also known as turtle beach, is located in the Province of Muğla in southwestern Turkey. Loggerheads from the Mediterranean Sea find their way to the shores of Iztuzu. The beach is one of the crucial grounds for the endangered sea turtle species. Loggerheads lay eggs on the beach from May to August.
The Kaptan June Turtle Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation has been working relentlessly to keep Iztuzu safe for loggerhead turtles. You can visit Iztuzu with family and witness the release of baby loggerheads between July to August.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: July to August
10. Tofo Beach, Mozambique
Coastal Mozambique is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. Sandy beaches like Tofo beach have been a sanctuary for sea turtles for a long time. Five species of sea turtles lay eggs on the coasts from November to March. The hatchlings emerge from the nests between December to April.
Unfortunately, the shores of Mozambique are under significant threat because of environmental pollution. The conservation center Underwater Africa welcomes volunteers to keep the coastal area safe for turtle nests and hatchlings. You can join a volunteering program of 4 to 16 weeks and help baby turtles reach their destination safely.
Sea Turtle Hatching Season: December to April
Before You Go
Want to know more about sea turtle nests and eggs? Then check my following articles here:
Sea Turtle Nests & What You Need To Know
How Many Eggs Does A Sea Turtle Lay?
Do not get scared seeing your tortoise's skin turning white, flaky, and patchy. The chances are that the pet is shedding its skin. But is the skin peeling normal for them? Skin shedding is a...
Owners make silly mistakes when raising their Florida box turtles. For example, overfeeding the pets, hibernating them without preparation, or breeding the pair in the wrong way. To address all these...