Take turns and read this section aloud. Work in pairs and underline the new words. Find out their meanings from the dictionary.
Between the months of January and March, female Olive Ridleys come ashore at night to lay their eggs. This is quite a problem for them, as a turtle’s front flippers enable it to swim gracefully and effortlessly but are not very useful for moving on land. The turtle has to haul itself laboriously onto the beach. Then it chooses a spot well away from the high-tide line. Here, it scoops out a nest cavity 45 cm deep, into which it lays about 100 eggs. Each egg is in the shape and size of a table tennis ball. Once all the eggs are laid, the turtle fills in the cavity, then it camouflages the nest by tossing sand on it using its flippers. That done, it returns to the sea. The eggs are left to incubate under the warmth of the sun.
In many places around the world, local people follow the tracks of the turtle to its nest. They collect the eggs for eating. Jackals, domestic dogs and pigs too dig up and eat the eggs by following the scent left by the turtle. Those eggs that escape such people and predators hatch 45–60 days later. The hatchlings slash open the leathery eggshell with the help of a tiny ‘egg-tooth’. This is like a razor blade at the tip of a hatchling’s snout. When most of the eggs have hatched, the hatchlings push themselves upwards through the sand and emerge on the surface of the beach. From here they make a hurried dash to the sea.
flippers - broad, flat limbs used for swimming
predators - animals that kill other animals for food
haul - pull with force
slash – cut
laboriously – with great effort
snout - pointed nose of an animal
cavity - a hollow space
emerge - come out
camouflage - hide or disguise something
incubate - hatch eggs using warmth
Are these statements right? Discuss with your partner and (✓) them if they are correct. Correct them if they are wrong. Share your answers in Class.
1. Female Olive Ridleys come ashore at night to lay eggs. ☑
2. The eggs of an Olive Ridley are in the shape and size of a cricket ball. ×
3. Ridleys come to lay their eggs in the month of January. ☑
4. The turtles use their flippers and make a hollow for their nests. ☑
5. The hatchlings use a tiny egg-tooth to come out of the eggs. ☑
Do you know
There is an interesting aspect of sea turtle biology. The temperature inside the egg determines the sex of the embryo while it is growing. When the eggs develop at 27o-28oConly male hatchlings are produced. At 30o C only female hatchlings are produced. An equal mix of male and female hatchlings is produced only when the eggs incubate at precisely 29o-30o C.