We took a bumpy ride with the big Silsan boat from Khiran to Qaru Island in southern Kuwait on Wednesday, 30 August. Accompanied by friends and colleagues, a number of divers and the outstanding photographer Mike Pope, I ventured to Qaru Island with the purpose of seeing what the turtles were doing there in this phase of their life cycle. I was expecting signs of hatching, and had anticipated digging a nest for inventory purposes if clear signs were spotted, which is what we usually do in turtle research and if deemed necessary.
Turtle nests take 50-60 days to hatch in Kuwait, and hatchlings often perish when daylight breaks and the crude heat catches up on them. Other than human barbecuing, trampling and interfering, turtle newborns do not face many predators in Qaru island, mostly devoid of birds and featuring only the token ghost crab here and there. In the sea, at night, potential predators such as fish will be sleeping, so the little turtles have a maximum chance of swimming towards open waters, refreshed by entering their element after weeks and weeks of growing inside their individual egg, in the sands of where their parents were born as well.
Upon landing, it became clear that the first nests laid in the season had hatched. Hand in hand, or, more appropriately, flipper in flipper, little hawksbill babies had emerged from the sand and many had made it to the sea. We found those who were less fortunate. Nature was taking its toll, leading the fittest only towards the sea. Looking for hawksbill nests hatching we also found six of the very rare in Kuwait green turtle. Laid within the month of July, these six nests were made, as usual, in the back of the coast guard station. But looking closely, we also saw what was very rare for the season: Green turtle hatchlings from a nest we had never spotted back in our June visit, either because it was covered by humans after it was laid or because something was put on it, a green turtle nest obviously made in the very beginning of June had hatched. Green turtle babies, larger than hawksbills, had emerged and reached the waters, latecomers left behind, as always nature desires.
After scribbling the notes from this successful field day, we attempted to snorkel in the beautiful turquoise sea around the pier but photography was difficult due to strong currents and poor visibility. We enjoyed the refreshing effect of the water until it was time to go back to the diving boat, which was awaiting us away from shore. While boarding it from the smaller raft, which took us to it from the shore, the eye caught a chain of jellyfish eggs, which, in the protection of thick jelly, were floating in the clear, fertile waters awaiting their own hatching sometime soon.
We sailed into a beautiful sunset, hearts filled with the natural beauty of completed life cycles, which we had witnessed and enjoyed, once more, visiting that sand cay named Qaru.