Sea Turtle nesting season off to a slow start in North Carolina

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WITN) - Sea turtle nesting season is in full swing in North Carolina, but experts say the number of nesting sites currently on the beaches is down compared to last year.

A fewer number of nests isn’t necessarily something to worry about though according to sea turtle expert and Aquarist Michelle Lamping who says it is still a bit cool for turtles.

“It also could be a down year for us, we had such a huge year last year so it would make sense that this year would be a down year since turtles don’t nest every year,” explained Lamping.

Lamping also says peak season usually hits between June and July but that nests can be made as late as November.

As these turtles make their way onshore, volunteers like Dale Baquer, who coordinates the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol group, are there to make sure everything goes well.

“We begin patrolling on May 1st. We have volunteers that walk the beach every morning usually between 6:00 and 7:00 am looking for tracks. We help locate the eggs and set up the nest like the one behind me,” said Baquer.

Sea turtles are a protected species which is why you’ll see a fence marking off each site, and every nest is also entered into a database so numbers can be tracked across the entire state.

As peak nesting season nears experts are asking beachgoers to do their part to help these turtles on their trek ashore.

“Every year we ask that people turn out their lights on the beachside if they’re not using them so we don’t deter sea turtles and a biggie is filling in your holes,” explained Baquer.

Turtles aren’t the only protected species that need our help along the Crystal Coast as well this summer. It’s also nesting season for several species of birds. Officials ask that visitors respect the nests of every animal that is marked off on the beach strand and ask you to call the police if you see anything being vandalized.

Right now there are 178 sea turtle nests along the coast of North Carolina.

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