Digging a nest

Last night I saw another two turtles nest. One of my favourite things about the entire nesting process is the way the turtle digs.

Sea turtles dig with their rear flippers. Their flippers are surprisingly dexterous and they manage to dig a 40-60 cm deep, light bulb-shaped hole with their head facing the other way. After clearing the top layers of sand the turtle alternately digs with her rear left flipper and her rear right flipper. She scrapes the sand several times with one flipper, carefully cups the fallen sand, and places that sand to the side of the hole. Then, she shifts her body sideways so as to place her next digging flipper right above the hole and starts the same process again. By shifting her body in this manner she can dig deeper.

One thing that I am always excited about is that right before she shifts her body, she flicks sand away from the hole with her non-digging flipper. This ensures that the piled sand does not fall back into the hole when she moves. I’ve tried to capture all of this in the video below. I hope you can see it!


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