Volunteers faced a surprising discovery when they surveyed turtle nests along Queensland, Australia's Castaways Beach and found an extremely rare albino green turtle.
The green baby turtle wasn't green. Volunteers from Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, named the pearl white hatchling, Alby. The baby turtle was one of 122 hatchlings that traveled back to the ocean.
"Alby was born at Castaways Beach and happily made his/her way across the dunes into the ocean yesterday. Alby was the straggler in the nest, with his siblings having hatched on Friday evening when no-one was watching," the organization posted in its Facebook page.
"May the oceans be kind to this unique little green turtle!" the post says.
According to Dr. Col Limpus, chief of the Threatened Species Unit of Queensland, albinism in turtles is very rare and may occur in one in many hundreds of thousands of eggs. He added that in his 50 years of experience, he has never encountered an albino as a nesting turtle. This means that there is a slim chance of survival for these rare turtles.
These turtles seldom survive coming out of the nest and when they do, they are faced with a daunting task of adapting to the environment. Albino turtles have a hard time surviving in the ocean because of their color and inability to camouflage, making them prone to predator attack.
"They're not particularly suited with colour patterns that would blend and camouflage within the environment and they're more likely to be taken by predators," Dr. Limpus added.
Green turtles as a whole have a slim chance of survival with just one in 1,000 turtle that reaches maturity. Albino green turtles have an even slimmer chance.
"They get in the great eastern current so they have a whole lot of threats that face them, not just predators but plastic debris, and fishing in Chile," Linda Warneminde, president of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, said.
Though rare, albino green turtles have been born in other parts of the world. In 2015, four albino green turtles hatched on Vamizi Island in Mozambique. Only two survived as they made their way into the ocean.
"Albinism is often associated with other malformations, which is why most animals die a few hours after being born, so having two true albino hatchlings surviving and having no apparent external malformations can then be considered quite rare," Joana Trindade, conservation and community manager in the island said.