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Indonesian sea turtle hatchlings seek freedom

Indonesian sea turtle hatchlings seek freedom

Dozens of newborn turtle hatchlings turned and made their way down a beach into the waves of the Indian Ocean, under the watchful eye of conservationists in an Indonesian national park.

Small enough to fit in the palm of one hand, some ended up on their backs, flapping their tiny fins helplessly as they tried to get back on track.

But conservationists did not interfere, as they wanted the creatures to "map" their environment and then return to lay eggs decades later.

"Sea turtles mature at 25 years, so if they are released today, we will probably find them again in 25 years," said Ardhini Estu Wardana, a ranger from the Meru Betiri National Park on the eastern tip of Java.

Its beaches are nesting areas for various species of turtles.

The night before, a giant female, more than one meter (3.3 feet) long, laid more than 160 eggs on the shore, sweeping mounds of sand over them to protect them from predators.

Turtles, threatened by poaching and habitat destruction, are protected by Indonesian law.

Indonesian sea turtle hatchlings seek freedom

Their eggs are considered a delicacy and are also slaughtered for their meat, skin, and shells.

Six of the seven species of tortoises in the world can be found in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to a dizzying array of exotic fauna.

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