While researchers were examining loggerhead sea turtle nesting sites on a South Carolina beach earlier this week, they were startled to find one that had two heads.
The double domed turtle was discovered at Edisto Beach State Park about 45 miles outside of Charleston. Researchers were examining nesting sites and counting the number of eggshells to help determine population estimates for this summer’s hatch.
Near one of the nests they examined, there were three baby turtles but 4 baby turtle heads.
The researchers said that the two-headed turtle does not have a very high chance of survival, but they chose not to interfere and instead elected to let nature take its course. They helped all of three baby turtles find their way to the ocean.
According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the chances of a mutated turtle like that surviving are very low.
Loggerhead sea turtles are listed as a threatened species in the United States, which means there is a high likelihood they could become endangered in the foreseeable future.
Adult loggerheads can grow to massive sizes, reaching weights of up to almost 300-pounds. They are found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. The turtles spend the majority of their time in the ocean, but females come ashore briefly to lay eggs in the sand before returning to the water.
Each year thousands and thousands of sea turtles hatch on beaches around the Southeastern U.S., but it’s estimated that only roughly 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 10,00 actually survive to maturity, depending on the year. The turtles that do survive their perilous infancy and grow to adulthood have a lifespan of roughly 50 – 70 years.
“Edisto Beach State Park sea turtle patrol had a very rare find during a routine nest inventory.
Three to five days after a sea turtle nest shows signs of a major emergence, we dig down to determine the success of the nest by counting the hatched eggs, unhatched eggs and on occasions also find live hatchlings.
While performing an inventory this past Wednesday, patrollers and volunteers found three alive loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings still in the chamber, but one hatchling in particular stood out because it had two heads!
This two-headed hatchling is the result of a genetic mutation. Other two-headed hatchlings have been found in South Carolina in past years, but this is a first for the patrol team at Edisto Beach State Park. After a few photos, this hatchling, along with the two others found, were released into the ocean.”
Edisto Beach State Park sea turtle patrol had a very rare find during a routine nest inventory. Three to five days after…
This is not the first time that a two headed loggerhead sea turtle has been found in South Carolina.
In 2019 one was also discovered at the beach on Hilton Head Island.
“We often find many strange things when we inventory sea turtle nests. Yesterday I found this twin two-headed hatchling. Only the second time I recall in 15 years finding one.
He was alive and well; however, could not crawl due his shell being abnormally shaped. He was released into the ocean. Sea turtle patrol follows rules set by the State Department of Natural Resources which calls for us to protect the nests and turtles but to also allow as natural a process as possible.
We do not take hatchlings off the beach to raise or rehabilitate. This little guy is on his own just like his brothers and sisters that came from the nest and like they have been doing for millions of years. Good luck and safe travels special guy!”
We often find many strange things when we inventory sea turtle nests. Yesterday I found this twin two-headed hatchling….