Network for Endangered Sea Turtles 24 HR. HOTLINE 252-441-8622

Visitors Jonathan and Benny were on the 4 wheel drive beach and noticed a sea turtle digging in the sand.  They immediately called the NEST hotline.  Our heroes stayed and protected this nesting Loggerhead sea turtle until the responding team arrived.

Loggerhead sea turtle nesting

The responding team analyzed the nest site as our sea turtle finished laying her eggs.  Next she filled the hole with sand, gently patted down the top layer, then tossed more sand around to hide the nest’s location.  Luckily the responding team placed a string down into the nest before she covered the eggs, making it easy to find.  Once complete, our sea turtle mom turned, and quickly made her escape back into the ocean.  Since the ocean was already lapping at her flippers, the trip back to the ocean did not take long.

Original nest site after mom returned to the sea

This nest sits below the average high tide line.  It will need to be relocated to a safer spot.  Team members split up their tasks of locating the eggs, scoping out a new location for the nest, and collecting data on the original nest.  Below is a picture of the nest chamber.

Nest chamber with eggs

Next our team carefully removes eggs in order from top to bottom.  Eggs are placed in numbered egg cartons so the nest can be recreated just as mom laid it.  Within her massive pile of eggs, the team finds a spacer egg.  A spacer egg is a smaller, yokeless egg that will never develop into a hatchling. The egg is collected as part of a large east coast DNA study of nesting sea turtles moms.  As a sea turtle forms an egg, her DNA is captured within the layers of the egg shell.

Spacer egg

Finally the responding team recreates mom’s nest using the same width, length and depth as in the original nest.  Eggs are placed back into the nest only in reverse order.  Sand from the original nest is sprinkled amongst the eggs.  This sand contains a thick clear mucus material from mom, and we want to make our nest as similar to mom’s as possible.

Since the 4 wheel drive beach gets a lot of vehicular traffic, we put up a colorful reflective perimeter of stakes and banners.  This notifies cars a sea turtle nest is on the beach.  Now we wait until our hatchlings are ready to make their own journey out into the ocean.  A shoutout to our 2 heroes – thank you for watching over this special Loggerhead mom!

  • nest number: 12
  • town: North Swan
  • date eggs laid: 07/07/2023
  • actual emergence date: 8/31/2023
  • live hatchlings: 124
  • total eggs: 139

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