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Friday, January 3, 2003



Efforts fail
to hatch rare
turtle eggs at Hilo

A researcher says the remaining 28 of 124
eggs originally in the nest are not viable


By Rod Thompson
rthompson@starbulletin.com

HILO >> There will be no baby olive ridley turtles from a clutch of eggs in Hilo.

After nearly three months of hope tempered by growing concern, federal sea turtle researcher George Balazs confirmed this week that none of the remaining 28 eggs laid Oct. 7 will hatch.

The eggs have been in a warm, humid incubation room at the University of Hawaii at Hilo since being removed from Hilo Bay sands Dec. 5.

Scientists had decided that the beach sands were too cool at this time of year for hatching.

Of the original 124 eggs, 96 were already discarded. On Sunday, Balazs looked at the remaining ones.

The ideal incubation period is 60 days. Since the mother laid the eggs in Hilo, 85 days had passed.

"Recent shriveling and signs of molding of the eggs strongly suggested that none were viable after this lengthy period of time," Balazs said in an e-mail. "Sadly, that turned out to be the case."

Internal examination of the eggs revealed 12 embryos died early in their development, eight at midterm and two late in development.

Six never developed an embryo.

The efforts to save the eggs was "heroic," Balazs said.

Olive ridleys are rare in Hawaii, although they are more numerous in Southeast Asia and Central America.

The normal egg-laying season is summer.

"Clearly, the cool temperature while in the beach sand at Hilo was the inhibitor of successful and timely incubation," Balazs said.

"If and when another turtle nest is ever laid at Hilo, especially outside the summer season, we would want to move the nest immediately to an artificial setting or to a distant, warm beach, such as in Kona," he said.



University of Hawaii at Hilo



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