Interns find live double-headed turtle hatchlings

| 24/10/2017 | 10 Comments
Cayman News Service

Two-headed hatchling turtle (Photo by Lucy Collyer)

(CNS): In an extremely unusual find, interns working with the Department of Environment on turtle nesting recently discovered two live hatchlings with two heads as they reviewed nests on Grand Cayman. This condition is known as polycephaly, and although experts say it is a natural occurrence, it is very rare. Lucy Collyer, a senior intern at DoE, posted on her Facebook page that finding double-headed hatchlings that are alive is even more rare.

“I have been working on turtle projects for 10 seasons now and my fellow interns have worked on multiple seasons also, and this is the first time that we have collectively witnessed a live two-headed hatchling, let alone two in one week,” Collyer said. “We all have however, come across dead ones.”

DoE researchers check every sea turtle nest after hatching and document the numbers and any abnormalities, embryos that didn’t survive or hatchlings that are unable to emerge from the nest.

Janice Blumenthal, DoE research officer and turtle expert, explained why nests are checked in detail. “This allows us to look for any changes in the types or frequencies of abnormalities of over time. To date we have not seen cause for concern but this monitoring will continue each turtle nesting season,” she said.

The two-headed hatchlings were found on Seven Mile Beach and South Sound Beach while interns were excavating nests, and they were later successfully released into the ocean. With only one in every 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings making it to adulthood, Collyer said it was uncertain as to whether they will survive, However, according to reports in the US, a live two-headed loggerhead turtle was found last August in Florida.

CNS has asked the DoE about any evidence of double-headed turtles reaching maturity and we are awaiting a response.

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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need the spirit woman…someone call Cayman airways..

  2. Anonymous says:

    One example might be a “freak of nature” – multiple examples might well be something else (I understand that a few dead two-headed hatchlings were found, as well). I’m no scientist but aren’t mutations like this usually caused by anomalies in the creature’s environment, such as pollution of some sort?

    It would be wise for DoE to share these discoveries with international agencies who may have more experience in investigating the relation between pollution and mutations.

  3. Unison says:

    God’s way of saying, “He” loves variety ??

  4. Anonymous says:

    No doubt descended from the turtle farm stock.

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