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The Hawksbill turtle unbelievable odds

As the sun slowly hid in the distant horizon, an unexpected surprised started to unfold in a nearby sand nest. Miniature, small hatchlings were surfacing from a Hawksbill or tortoiseshell turtle nest. Hawksbill sea turtles are named for their mouth appearance; it looks like a Hawk’s beak. Perhaps, it may have taken only a couple of months to hatch from the thousands of eggs beneath the egg chamber. But they finally made it out.

Although one in 10,000 newly born turtles make it to the shoreline of the open ocean waters, it will start to crawl and use its flippers to move across the sand. The journey is not easy. Many predators seek an easy meal as they wander around the beach. Raccoons, crabs and birds feed on these helpless hatchlings. Even raccoons dig for Hawksbill eggs, sometimes eating all of them.

Humans are a main concern for these endangered species. Places like Malaysia and the Caribbean use the turtle shells for jewelry and decorations. In fact, they even eat the eggs as a food delicacy or use them for medicine. But that’s not all. Hotel lights and beach house lights, although illuminate the night at beaches; they unfortunately, disorient female turtles and hatchlings as they seek the ocean waters. Beach house construction disrupts the nesting processes of the female turtles.

Hawksbill sea turtles as well as the other 7 species of sea turtles return to the origin of birth in beaches to lay their eggs. When construction along the beaches obstructs their pathway to the sea, it makes it difficult for female turtles to lay their eggs.

Pollution also impedes them to lay their eggs on the sandy beaches. Plastic bags, waste, oil, and other chemical spillage are hazardous not only to the sea turtles trying to embark on their journey to their habitat of coral reefs but to all marine life. Plastic bags, in particular, can be dangerous. Sea turtles may confuse them for appetizing jellyfish.

Hawksbill sea turtles can also feed on sea grass, sponges, corallimorphians and zoanthids. Fishing nets pose a danger to sea turtles. Many of them get tangled, making it harder for them to escape. However, many fish boats are now utilizing the TED (Turtle Exclusion Device) method, which allows them to escape from an open area when accidentally stuck in a net. If the small Hawksbill sea turtle, against all odds, makes it to the beach shoreline, it will try to swim its way to its natural habitats – the coral reefs.

There it will grow and develop a brown and yellow, spiky carapace or shell. And, it may grow to be as big as 100 pounds and 30 inches long. Amazingly, it will navigate through rough ocean waters until it reaches the currents. Sea turtles use the ocean currents as their navigational compass to travel from one region to another.

They may travel as much as 1,400 miles to reach their original birthplace. When female turtles arrive at their beach destination, every 2 years to nest, they lay as many as 160 clutches of eggs, unaware of the many dangers ahead. Predators and pollution have caused the population of Hawksbill turtles to decline by 80% worldwide in the last 105 years.

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Biologists and conservationists are making efforts that these sea turtles do not go extinct. They work hard to educate about conservation and preservation methods for the 8,000 nests recorded around the world. Sea turtles are an essential part of the ecosystem, the living area that surrounds the beaches and the ocean where all different species coexist.

When they lay their eggs on the sand, they nourish the nearby plant roots, preventing beach erosion. When sea turtles feed on sea grass, they promote healthy living for other species in the water that use sea grass as their home. When sea turtles are not able to nest on beaches, it greatly sends a signal of the conditions of the area.

Have you seen turtle nesting sites in your area?

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Habitat and fun facts about iguanas in the desert

Is it possible to observe iguanas in the arid, dry climate of the desert? As a matter of fact, Desert Iguanas or Dipsosaurus dorsalis are native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of the Southwestern region of the United States. They can also be found in the Northwestern areas of Mexico.

The Desert Iguana is a small reptile of about 10 – 16 inches long, with an extensive tail. Additionally, their bodies have tan and white scales, with sharp front and back claws, suitable for climbing trees. Although iguanas are most commonly found in tropical habitats, these reptiles have adapted well to the dry conditions of the desert.

Desert iguanas are considered herbivores, mainly feeding on low-lying plants, flowers and small bushes like the Creosote bush, cactus flowers, and mesquite trees. They prefer nearby bushes where they can eat the leaves and flowers, consuming them for their high water content and potassium.

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These lizards possess special glands that help them secrete the high amount of potassium without losing water content. This becomes an essential survival skill in the desert habitat. Desert Iguanas are considered ectotherm reptiles, an ability to regulate body temperature from external energy sources. They particularly like to bask or lay in the desert sun when their body temperatures are low. To regulate their body temperature, these reptiles furthermore use burrows, which are holes in the ground dug by other animals.

When typical desert temperatures increase to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more, these animals are able to either seek shade under a tree or refuge in the burrows. Similarly, these deep holes present other means of survival in the desert habitat. Desert iguanas also use burrows to escape from predators such as snakes and birds. In fact, they use these holes as nesting areas. These reptiles also tend to stay close to their habitat and live close to their burrow.

Have you seen these interesting reptiles in your area?