“It was a first for everyone.”

By Meghan Overdeep
October 21, 2020
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Officials on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, were shocked to see an “extremely rare” white baby sea turtle emerge from its nest over the weekend.

“You can imagine the excited ‘oohs’ and the ‘aahs’ from the guests, including some College of Charleston students, when the patroller found a lone, leucitic hatchling in the nest,” the town wrote on Facebook. “It was a first for everyone.”

Leucism is a condition where animals have reduced pigmentation. This is different from albinism which causes a complete loss of pigment, leaving animals completely white with red or pink eyes.

Loggerhead turtles are typically a reddish-brown color.

According to the Olive Ridley Project, sea turtles with leucism are rare, largely because odds of survival in the ocean are slim.

“Leucism is an abnormal genetic defect, and not a useful one,” the project explains. “Camouflage is important to all animals, particularly very small sea turtle hatchlings that are predated on by almost everything. So, to be born white makes you stand out and very visible to predators.

Kiawah Island researchers told The State that in this situation,  they chose to let nature take its course. They watched as the newborn white turtle reportedly “crawled to the ocean and swam away in the surf.”

All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope for the best. Good luck, little one!