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NEST ATV driver came across Momma turtle laying eggs on this beautiful July morning.  It is one of our endangered Green Sea Turtles.  There were also a couple of visitors watching Momma dig and lay her nest before she took her long trek back to the sea.

Green Sea Turtle heads back to the ocean








This crazy Green Turtle had incoming tracks about 100 yds north of where she ended up laying her nest. In analyzing her tracks, the responding team noticed that Momma turtle had dug in four different places before finally coming upon her 5th and final laying place.  Here is an aerial picture of her tracks.

Nest 13 long crawl tracks as outlined by the volunteers


Responders made quick work of the dig and found eggs easily.  This was a fairly shallow nest for a green turtle.  She was probably tired after digging all those other holes.

Overhead view of area excavated to find the eggs

Locating the eggs

Once the egg chamber is located, the team programs 3 data loggers to go in and around the nest of eggs.  Each data logger collects hourly temperatures. One is placed in the nest, one on top of the nest and one just outside the nest.  In order to add a data logger in the nest, we remove a few eggs and place the data logger among the eggs.  Then we put the eggs back into the nest just as we found them.

We use this temperature data to determine viability of the nest and predict approximately when the hatchlings (baby turtles) will emerge.  Sea turtle incubation period from egg to hatchling is temperature based.  The hotter the temperature the quicker the embryos develop into little hatchlings.

Removing eggs to add a data logger into the nest

The team also collects one egg to test for the momma turtle’s DNA.  We are part of a large study that analyzes the DNA of nesting sea turtle moms.  Each year this DNA is added to a large data base of sea turtle DNA samples.  It helps track which turtles are reproducing, where geographically they are laying nests and how often they are nesting.  In fact a green turtle was recorded earlier this year, coming onto the beach and digging several holes before finally laying her eggs – could this be the same turtle we had on our beach?  The DNA will help answer that question.

DNA sample collected from the nest

Finally, the nest is marked off and numbered as the 13th nest of the season.  Thank you to our amazing Responding Team for a job well done.

Nest 13 Responding Team

  • nest number: 13
  • town: Southern Shores
  • date eggs laid: 07/08/2023
  • actual emergence date: 8/28/2023
  • live hatchlings: 85
  • total eggs: 133

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