Busiest loggerhead nesting season on record is not over

turtle

A newly hatched sea turtle makes its way to the ocean recently.

Don Bryan / The Daily News
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 17:53 PM.

The beach has been busy this summer — and not just for human visitors.

There have been 1,211 observed loggerhead sea turtle nests documented along North Carolina beaches since Sept. 5 and a few more still are possible this season. Add in the nests for the green, leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley and unidentified species and the number grows to 1,265.

The number of loggerhead nests is the highest number observed in a single season in North Carolina since standardized monitoring began statewide in the mid-1990s, said Matthew Godfrey, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and head of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.

A banner season is good news, but Godfrey said it’s difficult to pinpoint whether it’s a short-term gain or a long-term trend.

That’s the reason for the ongoing monitoring.

“We don’t know why the numbers are high this year,” he said. “It may reflect improved conditions on their foraging grounds, where they go up to several years building up their energy reserves so that they can reproduce, or it could be that there are simply more adult females laying eggs in the population. This is why long-term nesting data are so important: to be able to differentiate between long-term trends and short-term fluctuations.”



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