It’s a Banner Year for Sea Turtle Nesting in North Carolina
8/12/2013 8:02 AM
By: Matthew Godfrey, Biologist, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Sea Turtle Project
The normal sea turtle nesting season in North Carolina runs from May through August and loggerhead sea turtles continue to visit sandy oceanside beaches to lay their eggs. So far this year, 1085 loggerhead nests have been observed and protected by citizen volunteers and cooperators from private,local, state and federal organizations, as part of the N.C. Sea Turtle Project, coordinated by biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
There also have been almost two dozen nests laid by green turtles and one leatherback nest laid in Fort Fisher Recreation Area, which is located in New Hanover County. While the nesting season is close to being over, the hatching season is kicking into high gear. Sea turtle eggs need 50-60 days to incubate in the sand, before small hatchling sea turtles are produced and hatch out of the approximately 120 eggs in each sea turtle nest. The hatchlings dig together up through the sand and emerge on the beach surface in a large group, usually only at night, and scurry to the ocean to begin their journey around the North Atlantic.
Volunteers and cooperators with the N.C. Sea Turtle Project keep an eye on nests during incubation, and a few days after the hatchlings emerge and enter the sea, the volunteers and cooperators collect data on hatching success and submit the information to the Wildlife Resources Commission.These data are used to keep track of the reproductive success of sea turtles in North Carolina and are shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that is responsible for managing nesting sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings. For more information about sea turtles in North Carolina, download our fact sheet.