Thursday 24 September, 2020

VIDEO: Tiki & Twist - conjoined twin turtles, released off Barbados

Tiki and Twist being held by Connor Blades.

Tiki and Twist being held by Connor Blades.

Tiki and Twist, a set of conjoined twin turtle hatchlings, are in the Atlantic Ocean battling life off Barbados now.

 

 

The finding was a first for Barbadian Sea Turtle Project volunteer Connor Blades. Tiki and Twist are the first two-headed turtle that Connor has seen in person in his six years of working with turtles and hatchlings. He made the discovery on September 3, 2020.

 

Answering the question of how exactly the discovery was made, he said:

"We excavate hatched turtle nests. This hatchling was one still stuck in the nest upon excavation, and would have definitely died otherwise. It was released later as normal."

Connor told Loop Lifestyle about the Siamese twin turtles' names.

"Tiki and Twist are named because of where we found them, near Tiki Bar, and the way the shell is a bit twisted."

Found during the day patrol, the pair was released with dozens of other hatchlings in the night. "We often release hundreds of hatchlings a night when it’s peak hatchling season."

Connor posted the Siamese twin turtles to Twitter yesterday (September 4) and with many asking about Tiki and Twist's chances of survival out in the big blue, he said:

"Lots of questions on their chance of survival. Realistically? Probably not great but, still, where there’s life there’s hope so it was released the same way as any other hatchling to the sea.

"Maybe we’ll see them in 30 years time."

Was keeping the hatchling to observe the oddity and learn more an option though? Connor said that the Sea Turtle Project is permitted to handle turtles, but to a follower who found Tiki and Twist so cute that they were asking if they could get and keep a hatchling, he said no to keeping the twins or any of their brothers and sisters because they are Hawksbill hatchlings. "This is a critically endangered species and possession has a heavy fine and/or jail sentence here in Barbados." 

According to AnimalPlanet.com "Polycephaly is the scientific term for the condition of having two heads. It is rare but occurs occasionally in turtles and other reptiles. In some cases, turtles are found with two heads side-by-side. In others, turtles may have two heads protruding from opposite ends of the body."

A year ago, August 2019, a sea turtle patrol on Hilton Island in South Carolina, US, was monitoring sea turtle hatchlings when they found an extremely rare oddity. To their surprise, there was a little Loggerhead turtle hatchling with two heads.

IntelligentLiving reported that they named the twin Squirt and Crush after Nemo’s reptilian pals. But believe it or not, this was not the first bicephalic turtle they found. About 15 years prior they found their first-ever two-headed turtle.

The conservationists did not collect the bicephalic hatchling to hold in captivity, instead, they released it into the sea along with its brothers and sisters. 

The turtle’s discoverer, Jayme Davidson Lopko, wrote in a Facebook post:

Sea turtle patrol follows rules set by the State Department of Natural Resources which calls for us to protect the nests and turtles but to also allow as natural a process as possible. We do not take hatchlings off the beach to raise or rehabilitate. This little guy is on his own just like his brothers and sisters that came from the nest and like they have been doing for millions of years. Good luck and safe travels special guy!

After researching, Loop discovered that  Lopko has been helping sea turtles for more than 15 years and Tuesday's find was only the second of its kind for her. Squirt and Crush were found and released on August 27, 2019.

 

We thought we had seen it all during this very busy season on Sea Turtle Patrol! Yesterday on patrol during a nest...

Posted by Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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