National Park Service (NPS)

Sea turtle nests at Cape Hatteras National Seashore surpass record

Baby loggerheads head out to sea. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Browning Fox.

Baby loggerheads head out to sea. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Browning Fox.

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The number of recorded sea turtle nests in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore this year has surpassed previous records, the National Park Service has reported.

As of Aug. 10, Seashore resource management staff has recorded 310 sea turtle nests and additional new nesting is expected.

Last year set a record of 289 nests. Of the 1,555 nests reported all along the state’s shores, 20 percent are in the CHNS.

Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common nesting sea turtles that appear at the Seashore, comprising 300 of the 310 nests that have been recorded.  Others are the occasional leatherback or Kemp’s ridley turtles. An additional seven are green sea turtles.

Beach visitors are asked to be aware of nesting activity or hatchlings while visiting the Seashore. If you see sea turtle tracks, nesting activity, or hatchlings, please notify park biologists by calling our stranding hotline at 252-216-6892.

Park biologists closely monitor the beach for sea turtle nesting activity and actively monitor nests. Once a nest has hatched, biologists excavate the nest to document how many eggs have hatched. During an excavation, the biologists will dig up the nest, count empty eggshells, and collect un-hatched eggs for research. Live hatchlings are occasionally found during these excavations.

Persons interested in finding out when and where a nest excavation or release of hatchlings will take place can call the excavation program hotline at 252-475-9629. Due to the unpredictability of sea turtle hatchings, notice of these excavations programs will usually occur only one day in advance, so check the hotline often.

Volunteers also are needed to help watch nests on the beach for hatching activity most nights between 6 and 9 p.m.  To read the details of this program, click here.

Nest excavations are an important way for the National Park Service to collect valuable data on sea turtle hatch and emergence success rates. This data is added to the turtle nesting databases for the Seashore and the state.

Visit http://seaturtle.org for more information and to track nesting activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and around the world.