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The cooperative of baby turtles

Nacimiento de una tortuga marina

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The life of a sea turtle always begins with arduous and laborious work. To protect the nest, the mother turtle patiently climbs up the beach beyond the high tide line and buries around a hundred eggs about a meter deep in the sand. In this way, she keeps them safe from predators.

But when the hatchlings emerge, their first task is to leave the protective nest and search for the essential air they need for survival. As one can imagine, escaping from this place is a formidable challenge. It requires the unity of all the newborns to prevent the nest from becoming a grave. The only way out is to work together, which is why those that hatch first wait for the others to begin the task.

Once the hatching is complete, a mass of tiny miniature turtles forms, with some on top of others. The ones on the top start digging towards the surface, while those at the bottom pack the sand beneath them, creating a solid floor on which they can stand. As the floor rises, the turtles at the bottom climb with it, pushing their siblings above to dig faster.

If, upon reaching a zone close to the surface, they detect that the sand is hot, the entire mass of baby turtles stops working in unison and patiently waits for the sand to cool down, a clear signal that night has come, a safer time to travel to the sea with less chance of being seen by predators.

Exiting the nest is the only communal action the turtles will have throughout their entire lives. Once on the surface, a wild race begins as they search for the refuge of the waves. Upon reaching the water, they will separate, starting a solitary existence. Of the entire nest, some will be lost on their way to the sea, while others will be devoured by predators on the beach or before reaching the breaking waves. Only one or two of the turtles that left the nest will reach adulthood to mate and have offspring, showing that, despite everything, life finds its way.

“You cannot defend what you do not love, and you cannot love what you do not know.”