Mutant two-headed turtle with less than a ‘one in a 100 chance of survival’ is discovered in South Carolina — but experts say it is ‘nothing to be worried about’
- The bizarre creature was uncovered on the shores of Hilton Head, SC
- The animal seemed to be fine and healthy but its long term prospects are bleak
- Experts say its existence is rare but is due to genetic mutations and not radiation
A mutant two-headed turtle has been discovered living a relatively normal life by shocked conservationists.
The bizarre creature was uncovered on the shores of Hilton Head, an island in the US state of South Carolina.
But despite its unnatural appearance, experts say there is no reason for concern and this anomaly is relatively normal.
A mutant two-headed turtle has been discovered living a relatively normal life by shocked conservationists (pictured)
The bizarre creature (pictured) was uncovered on the shores of Hilton Head, an island in the US state of South Carolina
Amber Kuehn, manager of Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island, said such animals pop up very rarely.
She said: ‘It’s rare but it’s nothing to be concerned about,’ she said. ‘Some people are thinking radiation in the water, but it’s not like that, it just happens in nature periodically.’
‘In South Carolina, after we’ve noticed that a nest has hatched we will leave it for three days to make sure that everything comes out naturally that would come out naturally.
‘Then we go in and dig everything out, we count the empty shells, we count the eggs that didn’t hatch, we count live hatchlings and dead hatchlings, and we put all of that information into a database for the state.
‘In this situation, there was a hatchling trapped in there – it would not have got out naturally – and it was this one with the two heads.’
Staff who discovered the turtle said that the right head appeared to govern one flipper, while the left head governed the other.
‘There’s a bump that goes down the centre of turtle’s shells and there are two of them here, so they probably each have their own spine,’ said Ms Kuehn.
‘They walked it past the surf and put it in the water and, of course, with two different flippers it didn’t swim well at all.’
As for the odds of it surviving, Ms Kuehn is not hopeful. She said: ‘In general, even for the healthy ones, it’s one in a hundred.
Staff who discovered the turtle (pictured) said that the right head appeared to govern one flipper, while the left head governed the other
‘And this one might have been healthy, it’s just their destination from South Carolina is the Gulf Stream – it’s a warm water current and from Hilton Head it’s 70 miles offshore.
‘So for our hatchlings it’s a three-day swim to the Gulf Stream. A lot can happen in three days – fish eat them, everything eats them.
‘That’s why there’s so many entering the water at once, because if 100 enter the water, 99 of the brothers and sisters have to get eaten for that one to make it.’
The gender of the turtle was unclear, but it’s likely that both are the same sex because they shared an egg.
‘Occasionally we’ll come across eggs that have double yolks,’ said Amber.
‘Most likely that’s what happened and they were just conjoined and stayed joined.’
It’s one of several strange mutations Amber has encountered in her 21 years monitoring sea turtles.
She said: ‘I’ve had sea turtles that have come out with a brain stem and no head, I’ve had two of them come out fully formed but attached at the bottom shell, I’ve had hatchlings with miniature front flippers that can’t swim because they’re tiny little nubs.
‘Sometimes it’s condition-related, like we’ve had hatchlings come out that are completely white and that’s a thermal injury, but in this case it’s just a genetic mutation.’