The turtle has some pigmentation and its eyes are brown, rather than the red that is seen in albino animals.
The Cape Hatteras National Park Service announced on Instagram that NPS biologists found a leucistic loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at the bottom of a sea turtle nest chamber. The live and healthy hatchling crawled its way into the Atlantic Ocean. The turtle has some pigmentation and its eyes are brown, rather than the red that is seen in albino animals.
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The sea turtle was found July 27 with the first sea turtle hatchings occurring July 23. This sea turtle is white in coloration but with brown eyes. Albino reptiles have pink eyes and lack melanin.
The finding of the leucistic sea turtle is rare, but not uncommon, as the NPS does see a few sea turtles with leucism nearly every year. The survivability of this individual, as well as albino sea turtle hatchlings, is not great given they stand out versus normally colored turtles.
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The color would stand out for predators to pick off. In fact, it is estimated that just 1 in 1,000 green sea turtles reach maturity. They are considered endangered throughout the world due to habitat loss, egg harvesting, pollution, and entanglements in fishing gear.
The loggerhead turtle is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. The loggerhead sea turtle can grow to about 7 feet in length and reach a weight of more than 300 pounds. The turtle’s range includes the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Indian ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The turtle reaches sexual maturity in as little as 17 years and has an approximate lifespan of up to 67 years. It feeds mainly on invertebrates, including sponges, shellfish, jellyfish, shrimp, squid, and sea urchins.