Thousands of Baby Turtles Hatch in Brazil: Freshwater Species of the Week

This week, scientists in Brazil weren’t kidding when they said that they “hit the mother lode.”

They were referring to a mass hatching of an estimated 210,000 giant South American river turtles at the Abufari Biological Reserve. It’s one of the largest known hatchings for the species, Podocnemis expansa.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation were able to mark and release 15,000 of the hatchlings. The methodology is usually referred to as “mark and recapture,” and it will allow the researchers to estimate the size of the turtle’s population in the future.

Protecting Their Future

freshwater species of the weekWhile the giant South American river turtle is currently considered “of least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species, it is still threatened by unregulated consumption of the turtles’ meat and eggs and may soon be listed as critically endangered. (Related: “World’s Largest Freshwater Turtle Nearly Extinct.”)

The turtles, which are the largest of the side-necked turtle family, are only found in the Amazon River Basin and can grow up to three feet long. Their lifespan can extend to over 20 years in the wild and they’re known for being more communal than other local turtles.

Their mass hatchings typically occur during the dry season along the river sandbanks of the Purus River Basin in western Brazil. Having such large numbers of hatchings is part of the animal’s evolutionary strategy—the bigger the group, the more it deters potential predators.

The researchers used a fence to contain the turtle hatchlings that emerged from pre-identified nests and marked them for future research. Camila Ferrara, an aquatic turtle specialist for the Wildlife Conservation Society Brazil program, hopes that the marked turtles will provide data that will help safeguard the turtles from extinction. (Related: “Hundreds of Rare Pig-Nosed Turtles Rescued at Airport.”)

“Turtles are among the most endangered species of vertebrates in the region and worldwide,” added Julie Kunen, the executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Latin America and the Caribbean program.

“Monitoring programs for these and other turtles and tortoises will provide a foundation for sound management plans in the years to come.”

Sonia Harmon is the blog coordinator at National Geographic. She has also written for Ladies' Home Journal magazine and Washingtonian magazine.
  • 大野 シア

    Thank you for this article. I hope more people take an sincere interest.

  • Mandi

    Out of all them tiny turtles; I see two that aren’t too turtley for the turtle club…topsy-turvy turtles.

  • Rita Skajewska

    Sa to wspaniale, cudowne maluszki, zreszta te duze sa rownie piekne. Nie pozwolmy aby zli ludzie przyczyniali sie do wyginiecia tego gatunku. Czlowiek, to najwiekszy wrog, zarowno fauny jak i flory. Niszczy nie z glodu ale dla zdobycia pieniedzy. Okropnosc!!! sprezmy wysilki by zastopowac to bestialstwo.<3 <3 <3

  • Christina

    I love these pics and this article. Keep up the good work.

  • jeffrey dy victoria

    I love what you all guys did keep it up.goodluck for the future project.more power.

  • Eva G. Rabena

    Very informative article about endangered species. Hopefully, you will feature more related articles. This is very useful to science teachers as it gives interest to pupils. more power and God bless

  • Carlos Durigan

    An important effort but a difficult scenario which needs a strong work to involve more people and institutions.

  • cami

    So cool and so cute!



  • Keaton

    This is cool and wierd and awesome

  • Tatty

    Las tortugas son tan lindas y aun mas cuando son bebes.

  • Alan Covich

    I hope there is a follow-up study to see how well the population increases.

    Great story and photos!

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