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| Last Updated:: 15/04/2019

Female turtle returns to Maldivian atoll to lay eggs, finds runway instead






In a heart-breaking incident, a green sea turtle that had come to a Maldivian atoll to lay its eggs, found the newly-constructed runway of a brand new airport instead, and ended up laying her eggs on the tarmac. The incident happened on April 9, 2019, at the Maafaru Airport on the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives.



Science tells us that turtles visit the same beach every year to lay their eggs. According to reports in the Maldivian media, the female turtle was looking for a safe nesting site when it landed on the atoll on April 9.



While the turtle mother who laid her eggs is in good health, the question remains as to what is the scientific reason behind turtles returning to the same beach annually to lay eggs?



“Studies have indicated three main factors to be behind this,” Basudeb Tripathy, scientist at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata told DTE. “One is a phenomenon termed natal homing. Here, hatchlings that are born on a specific beach get the characteristics of that spot imprinted on their brain. This is what then attracts them every year,” he explained.



The other reason is pheromones, said Tripathy. These hormones, which are produced among turtles at the time of their birth, also imprint the beach where they are born onto their brains.



Yet another reason is sea currents. “Sea currents are like marine highways on which turtles traverse the vast oceans. Since these are fixed, the turtles are able to use them to come back to the same beach every year,” said Tripathy.