Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blanche, a cuddly albino Green turtle

Blanche, one of the few living adult albino Green turtles in the world, Elke Talma.

Blanche is a 20 year old Green turtle living at Kelonia, who also happens to be one of a few surviving albino turtles in the world. Cases of albinism in reptiles are very rare with an occurrence rate of about 1 in 100,000. The absence of pigmentation makes the albino vulnerable to predators as it can no longer camouflage itself in the wild.

She is considered the flagship individuals at Kelonia and features on many of their promotional materials. She is also a great hit with the public as she loves to be caressed and tickled by anyone who comes to visit the Marine Observatory. Visitors can also feed her with leaves from the “Veloutier Blanc” or “Bois Tabac” as it is known in Seychelles (Tournefortia argentea).

Blanche and Elke bonding, photo David Rowat.

Kelonia provides a safe haven for Blanche, not only from predators but also other turtles. In the wild, she would be picked on by other turtles who seem to have a thing for biting at white objects or marks. This is clearly seen with some of the turtles in Kelonia who share holding tanks. They are continually nipping at each others healing wounds from minor conflicts between individuals. In an attempt to speed up recovery, the staff at Kelonia have switched to a coloured antiseptic spray to mask the injury allowing it to heal.

Turtle with blue bum courtesy of Elke, photo Elke Talma.... More on this in the next blog!

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