On a beach in Barbados, Connor Blades made the startling discovery of a rare, two-headed baby Hawksbill turtle after its siblings had all hatched from their eggs and rushed to the ocean on Wednesday night (September 2).
Blades, in an interview with BUZZ on Friday, said he called the hatchling Tiki and Twist, adding that the baby Hawksbill was physically healthy when members of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project assessed it.
Tiki and Twist were assisted out of their larger nest with his help after finding its remains two days ago.
“It was given a preliminary assessment. The two heads were in good condition, eyes open, taking in breaths, responsive. Not entirely sure if one head controls one half of the body and the other head controls the second half. It was then released,” Blades said.
The young Barbadian, who has been an active volunteer with the conservation group for the last six years, told BUZZ that while two-headed hatchlings are statistically rare, they have been born in Barbados before.
A candidate for a master’s degree from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Blades further explained that Tiki and Twist’s chances of survival are not high but, as they seem healthy, he remains hopeful.
“Where there’s life there’s hope. I’m not sure it will survive to adulthood but we gave it the best chance we could,” he explained.
On average, pregnant Hawksbill turtles lay around 150 eggs in a single sitting. Shen then leaves her babies to fend for themselves after burying the nest where she feels it is safe and secluded—away from predators on any of Barbados’ plentiful beaches.
For Blades and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, the preservation of the Hawksbill, which is listed as critically endangered, is important for the long-term health of marine ecosystems in the Eastern Caribbean island, and the wider region.
For too long, he argued, humans have contributed to their decline and the onus rests on society to ensure marine turtles do not go extinct.
“Turtle conservation is really quite important to us in the Caribbean. Not just because they are part of our tourism product [but] they play important roles in our ecosystems. They’re also a living thing with a right to continue living. The causes of their declines have mostly been anthropogenic in nature so we have a responsibility to help where we can,” Blades told BUZZ.
We wish you the best of luck Tiki and Twist, hoping we see you again soon!