Australian Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings do not avoid yellow
When emerging from the nest, sea turtle hatchlings primarily orient using visual stimuli, with light pollution known to disrupt effective sea localization behavior. Previous studies have shown that sea turtle hatchlings respond differently to different wavelengths of light but Loggerhead hatchlings, exclusively among species tested, have a strong aversion to yellow light (at 600 nm). This study repeats these experiments with an Australian population of Loggerhead hatchlings (Caretta caretta) and Flatback hatchlings (Natator depressus). The orientation preference was measured using a modified y-maze set-up with the animals response observed using an infrared camera. This study showed that both Loggerhead and Flatback hatchlings can see and are attracted to light in the ultraviolet waveband (365 nm) and, to a lesser extent to longer wavelengths of 600 nm and above. The surprising finding was that the Loggerhead hatchlings tested here, unlike their conspecifics in Florida, do not show any avoidance to yellow but are attracted to bright lights of wavelength between 365 nm (UV) and 600 nm. This suggests potential differences in the visual behavior among different populations of sea turtles of the same species. No difference was detected in the response of Loggerhead hatchlings to flickering or steady light stimuli.