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Just moments after birth, the most dangerous journey of their lives commences. After more than two months buried in a shallow, subterranean beach nest, thousands of newly hatched Leatherback Turtles will dig their way to the surface of their sandy surroundings underneath the light of the moon. The ensuing dash to the ocean is a treacherous trek for the hatchlings, and often a fatal failure. Pushing their way toward the crashing waves, paddling on dry ground with tiny flippers, these individuals are the lucky ones - those whose eggs were neither infertile nor raided during incubation. Nevertheless, as wholly hapless hatchlings, a vast majority will suffer the unlucky fate of being easily eaten within the first hours of life. Seabirds, crustaceans, beachside reptiles, small mammals, and humans all wait to snatch up the small black, white-streaked babies for an easy meal. Of the small group that survives this brief stint on solid ground, most will fall victim to a maritime predator as soon as they are swept into the deep blue sea.
Painting caption: An adult Leatherback Sea Turtle swimming near the surface amidst a group of jellyfish, many of which will soon be consumed.