Never in a million years could I have imagined us spotting a teeny tiny baby sea turtle hatchling making a go at life right by our sailboat while cruising the Caribbean. For pete’s sake, we’ve lived in Naples for almost 10 years, less than 1/2 a mile from the beach no less, and neither Jereme nor I had ever seen sea turtle hatchlings. Yes, plenty of flagged nests along our hometown beach, but never ever real live babies.
That all changed one fateful day in Puerto Rico while we were anchored off the beautiful secluded nature reserve known to most as Coffin Island.
Jereme noticed the recently hatched baby sea turtle hanging in some sargassum weed that had bunched up next to our boat. We had seen plenty of large clumps of seaweed drift by the boat while anchored alone off Coffin Island, and from what we’ve read, baby sea turtles take shelter from predators and drift along at sea with these huge lines of weed.
It’s amazing to think that sea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. The seven species that can be found today have been around for 110 million years, with only about one in 1,000 turtles surviving to adulthood. Hatchlings typically die of dehydration if they don’t make it to the ocean fast enough or from predation once they make it to the water.
Turns out, sea turtle hatchlings can spend the first year or more of their life drifting in the sargassum rafts that gather in the Atlantic. And we watched as this cute little turtle became one with the weed as he floated by our boat. How they know to do this is beyond me.
We still don’t know definitively what species of sea turtle this little guy is, but would love for any sea turtle experts reading this to weigh in.
We watched on for a few minutes and snapped a few more photos before leaving our little hatchling to fight for life on his own. Here’s to hoping he is swimming the seas a hundred years from now! And for Jereme and I, we will remember this once in a lifetime experience forever and ever.
PS – If anyone wants to see a super quick iPhone video of this cute baby swimming, you can find it over on Instagram.
>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean. …Learn more about us and our sailing + cruising adventures.