(The State). An intern with the Department of Environment in the Cayman Islands stumbled upon not one, but two live two-headed baby sea turtles last week.
Yes, you read that right — a two-headed sea turtle. Two of them.
“͞This is a rare condition that these hatchlings have,” said Lucy Collyer, lead turtle intern with the DOE. Collyer is in her seventh year with the DOE and is working towards her PhD.
“I have been working on turtle projects for 10 seasons now and my fellow interns have worked on multiple seasons also, and this is the first time that we have collectively witnessed a live two headed hatchling, let alone two in one week,” she said. “We all have however, come across dead ones.”
Both of the hatchlings were found on Seven Mile Beach and South Sound Beach in the Cayman Islands while Collyer was excavating nests. They were later successfully released into the ocean.
In general, only .1 percent of sea turtle hatchlings actually make it to adulthood, according to Collyer. That’s only about one in 1,000.
“So it is uncertain as to whether these hatchlings will survive,” she added. “Only time will tell as to whether they will survive.”
According to Janice Blumenthal, DOE research officer, the hatchlings suffer from a condition known as polycephaly.
Polycephaly is the condition of having more than one head. Blumenthal said the condition is rare, but it occurs naturally.
“DOE checks every sea turtle nest after hatching and documents any abnormalities in dead embryos and hatchlings which were unable to emerge from the nest,” she explained. “This allows us to look for any changes in the types or frequencies of abnormalities of over time. To date we have not seen cause for concern but this monitoring will continue each turtle nesting season.”
Although uncommon, another live two-headed sea turtle was found in Florida back in August.