Turtle-nesting season draws to close

hatchling

This sea turtle hatchling heads toward the ocean after the first nest of the season hatched Wednesday on Topsail Island.

Submitted Photo/The Daily News
Published: Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 01:08 PM.

The first sea turtle hatchlings have begun to trek to the ocean along local beaches as this year’s nesting season approaches the final stretch.

As July ended, more than 200 sea turtle nests had been documented from Cape Lookout Seashore to Topsail Island.

The numbers are down so far from last season, which saw a record year for loggerhead nests in North Carolina.

“There are fewer nests laid so far this year than last year, but it is common to see an up-and-down pattern in the total number of nests laid in a sea turtle population. Females nest every second, third or fourth year so you can imagine that, if a majority of females nest in one year, then there will be fewer females in the population that will ready to nest in the subsequent year,” said Matthew Godfrey,  a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and head of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.

The first nests of the season for Topsail Island and Bogue Banks hatched this week, prompting reminders to beach residents and visitors to be mindful of hatchlings and incubating nests.

Jim Craig of the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Protection Program said that as hatchlings scramble out of nests they head toward the bright light, making it important to keep outdoor lights along the beachfront off near nests so the turtles don’t head inland instead of toward the moonlit ocean.

He said nests should remain undisturbed and anyone seeing any damage to a nest is asked to contact the local police department.



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