The nest microenvironment affects hatching and emergence success, sex ratios, morphology, and locomotion performance of hatchling sea turtles. Sand grain size is hypothesised to influence the nest microenvironment, but the influence of sand grain size on incubation of sea turtle eggs has rarely been experimentally tested. At the Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, Redang Island, Malaysia, green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests were relocated to sands with different sand grain sizes on a natural beach to assess whether grain size affects nest temperature, oxygen partial pressure inside the nest, incubation success, hatchling morphology and hatchling locomotion performance. Green turtle nests in coarse sand were cooler; however, hatching success, nest emergence success, oxygen partial pressure, incubation length and hatchling size were not influenced by sand particle size. Nests in medium-grained sands were warmest, and hatchlings from these nests were better self-righters but poorer crawlers and swimmers. Hatchling self-righting ability was not correlated with crawling speed or swimming speed, but crawling speed was correlated with swimming speed, with hatchlings typically swimming 1.5–2 times faster than they crawled. Hence, we found that sand particle size had minimal influence on the nest microenvironment and hatchling outcomes.
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Vol. 66 • No. 5-6