More than 60 turtle eggs hatched on Ramla Bay overnight between Saturday and Sunday, as the first confirmed turtle nest in Gozo in 70 years came to fruition.
Nature Trust Malta said that eggs began hatching at 1.50am and that 62 hatchlings had been counted as of 6.45am.
A loggerhead turtle laid the eggs at the Gozitan beach last May and the nesting site was subsequently cordoned off by environmental authorties. Nature Trust volunteers kept watch of the site day and night, to ensure the eggs remained undisturbed.
In June, the government suspended plans to sift the beach’s sand to clean it of cigarette butts and other litter, to keep disturbances to a minimum.
Turtle eggs are extremely sensitive to noise, vibrations and waterlogged sands. Hatching turtles can also be easily disoriented by bright lights, which they can mistake for the horizon.
Volunteers at the Ramla Bay site used red light, which is less distracting to turtles, to keep an eye on the hatching process and count the successfully-hatched eggs.
In a statement, the Environment and Resources Authority said that volunteers at the site had spent some "tense days" before the eggs hatched and were pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
The regulator thanked Nature Trust Malta, the Environment Ministry and all the volunteers who kept watch of the site.
The Ramla Bay turtle nest is one of three nests spotted this summer: another loggerhead turtle laid eggs at Golden Bay in July, while earlier this week a third turtle was seen laying eggs at Għadira Bay.
All three sites are subject to an Emergency Conservation Order issued by the Environment and Resources Authority.
Loggerhead turtles are considered to be globally endangered by the World Conservation Area and capturing, killing, taking or trading them, as well as disturbing their eggs is a crime.
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