Posted by Blair | 04.19.2017 | Sea Turtle Camp News
Sea Turtle Nesting Season is Almost Here!
One of our favorite days of the year is right around the corner – the start of Sea Turtle Nesting Season! This 4-month nesting period begins May 1st and runs through the end of August. As more and more people flock to Wrightsville Beach and Topsail Island, it’s now more important than ever to be aware of exactly what this means if you have any plans to hang out on the North Carolina beaches this summer.
Although May 1st is technically the beginning of nesting season in North Carolina, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll start seeing turtle tracks and nests popping up right away. The season generally starts off pretty slowly, but picks up towards the end of May and is in full-swing by the beginning of June.
It’s an exciting time of year that also comes with a lot of responsibility for beachgoers. For those that are new to the world of sea turtles or for those who may need a little refresher, here is what to remember for this summer:
You may see a sea turtle nesting on the beach
One of the most magical things you could ever experience is seeing a nesting sea turtle. In this area, the sea turtles laying eggs are almost exclusively loggerheads, which nest at night. On more rare occasions, you may see a green, Kemp’s Ridley, or even a leatherback. But remember – only Kemp’s Ridleys nest on the beach during the day. All others come ashore at night.
Sea turtles are sensitive to light
As you may already know, sea turtles can easily become confused by light sources from flash lights and houses. If you are staying on the beach and need to have a light on in the house at night, make sure your curtains are thick enough to block out that light, and make sure to turn those porch and patio lights off when the sun goes down. If you need to have a flashlight to take a walk on the beach, make sure it has a red light bulb or has red cellophane over the light. This keeps sea turtles from becoming disoriented and makes their difficult journey as easy as possible. It’s especially important to remember this as nests begin to boil, as hatchlings are particularly sensitive to light and may try to follow the light instead of heading into the ocean.
With more sea turtles coming ashore to nest, stranding numbers are likely to increase
Sea turtles are pretty elusive creatures most of the time. As most sea turtles in this area nest at night, it is important to call the proper authorities if you ever see a sea turtle on the beach during the day. Better to be safe than sorry! In this area, the Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator responds to issues regarding a sick or injured turtle. More often than not, seeing a sea turtle on the beach during the day means that it is sick and in need of help. Once you have called the stranding coordinator, make sure to follow their directions explicitly – don’t do anything more or less than what they ask of you. It could be crucial to saving that turtle’s life! The appropriate person will come to the scene to transport the turtle to the Sea Turtle Hospital if necessary. Your phone call could save a life! *The image of the emaciated turtle in the photo is April. She was a Loggerhead sea turtle that was rescued, rehabilitated, and later released by the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, NC. Watch the video below she makes her way down the beach back to the ocean after a long and incredible recovery.*
Make sure to give those nests plenty of space!
You may walk down the beach and come across a small square of beach marked off with wooden stakes and bright orange tape and wonder what on earth that’s for. It’s a sea turtle nest! Feel free to look, but make sure not to touch. Sea turtles are federally protected species, and so are their nests! Nests with tape around them mean that they have been set up to deter predators, and tampering with them can result in a hefty fine (up to $100,000) and even jail time. Make sure to admire from afar!
There is a way to get directly involved with sea turtles this summer
Join us at Sea Turtle Camp this summer to learn more about nesting season, work hands-on with the turtles at the Sea Turtle Hospital and so much more!
To report a stranding, please call: