From: Associated Press
Published December 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Two-Headed Turtle Hatched in Costa Rica, WWF Says

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A two-headed turtle was hatched on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, with a birth defect possibly linked to ocean pollution or climate change, the World Wildlife Fund said Wednesday.


The Olive Ridley turtle hatched on Nov. 20 in a turtle refuge at Ostional Beach, 225 kilometers (140 miles) west of the capital, San Jose. Thousands of female turtles arrive between July and November to lay their eggs.


"The turtle caught the WWF's attention because this is a birth defect that could be associated with pollution or temperature increases, among other causes," said Carlos Drews, the WWF's regional coordinator for marine turtles.


"The species could serve as an indicator of climatic changes and the affect of pesticides and agrochemicals on coastal and marine ecosystems," he said.


Two-headed turtles, however, do occur naturally, said Sheryan Epperly, a sea turtle expert at the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in Miami, Florida.


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"I've personally seen a couple," Epperly said. "It's not unheard of to have a two-headed turtle of any species."


Brothers Melvin and Olger Chavarria found the baby turtle, which they said raised both heads above the surface of the water to breathe.


They said in more than 50 years of working with turtles in the area, no one had seen anything like it previously.


Source: Associated Press


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