Hawksbill Turtles Raised by Researchers Experience Ocean for First Time

A group of 11 critically endangered hawksbill turtles swam in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for the first time in early May, after they were released into the ocean.

The turtles were collected two years ago from Milman Island in the northern Great Barrier Reef as hatchlings. They were then raised at James Cook University for two years before being released on John Brewer Reef, north of Townsville, Queensland, according to reports.

Upon their release, the turtles were fitted with satellite trackers so they could be monitored for research. Most hatchlings swim straight to the open ocean and only return to coastal waters years later. Biologists call the period young turtles are in the open ocean “the lost years” because so little is known about it.

The turtles will be monitored for approximately seven months, until the satellite batteries run out and eventually the trackers fall off, the WWF said.

The WWF said the turtles made themselves at home immediately, nudging a sea cucumber, interacting with fish, wedging themselves under coral, and foraging. Credit: WWF/Woody Spark via Storyful