The Malta Independent 15 August 2020, Saturday

Turtle eggs at Ramla Bay hatch

Sunday, 2 August 2020, 09:10 Last update: about 13 days ago

Turtle eggs laid at Ramla Bay in Gozo hatched at 1.50am on Sunday morning, NGO Nature Trust Malta said in a Facebook post.

A loggerhead turtle was noted laying eggs on Ramla Bay last May. The turtle came out of the sea at around 10pm and left around 11.30pm. This was the first recorded and confirmed nest in Gozo after 70 years. The last episodes were in Malta in 2012, 2014 and 2018 with the last having a successful hatching rate of 111 from 112 eggs. 

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In a Facebook post on Sunday, Nature Trust Malta said that 62 eggs hatched, and thanked Environment Resources Authority (ERA) officials, the ministry for Gozo and volunteers for their work and support.

The ERA also released its own statement. "Following tense days at the Ramla l-Ħamra turtle nest site, turtle hatchlings pleasantly surprised those at the bay when they emerged from their marked nest during the night, in the early hours of the morning, after a successful period of incubation. Nature Trust - FEE Malta (NTM) and volunteers who were present, immediately informed the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) of the event taking place and took action on the ground to guide hatchlings safely to the water's edge."

"Hatchlings are naturally attracted to moon light shining on the sea surface and their first response, upon emerging from the eggs, is to swim towards light," the ERA said.

The loggerhead turtle (Maltese: il-fekruna l-komuni), scientifically known as Caretta caretta is a long-living, slowly maturing marine species that inhabits tropical to warm temperate areas. This species is classified as globally endangered by the World Conservation Area (IUCN) and is also protected by various national and international legislation. Capturing, killing, taking, and trading these turtles, as well as the deliberate disturbance of these species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and migration, is prohibited and subject to legal action. Even the destruction of eggs or taking of eggs from the wild is strictly prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence.  In fact, the national 'Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations' impose a minimum fine of nearly €500 and going up to nearly €2400 for each egg that may be destroyed or taken from the wild. The area where the loggerhead turtles has laid its eggs is also a protected area under the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549) and a Natura 2000 site through the EU Habitats Directive.


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