Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Turtle mother springs surprise

A week-old Roti Island Snake Necked Turtle at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. (Issued by the National Sea Life Centre.)

Keepers were surprised when these tiny turtles appeared in a tank at a sea life centre last week.

Staff at the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham had no idea one of their Roti Island Snake Necked Turtles had laid eggs.

Curator Graham Burrows said he believed the mother had hidden her eggs in the sand at the bottom of her tank. "The first we knew of it was when we came in one morning and found these two youngsters swimming around," he said.

The one-week-old turtles are now receiving special care and are being fed a diet of bloodworm and shrimp before they go on display to the public next week.

The species is one of the rarest in the world and the surprise appearance of the two turtles brings the total captive population to just 250 worldwide. "That's more than the population left in the wild," Mr Burrows said.

"The species is confined to a tiny area in the middle of a single small island, Rote Island, in Indonesia, and was hunted almost to extinction for the pet trade.

"It has been protected since 2001, and with luck the population will recover.

"If it doesn't, captive reared animals like our two new arrivals could be used for reintroduction to give the species a vital last lifeline."

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