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Another beautiful day dawns in the Outer Banks.  Overnight a Loggerhead sea turtle came ashore to lay her eggs in Southern Shores.  The N.E.S.T. responding team, with Louise as their Lead, is called into action.  They analyze the tracks and nest site to determine what type of sea turtle she was, which track is incoming, which track is outgoing, and where she hid her eggs in the sand.

Nest 41 crawl and nesting site

If you look closely at the above picture you can see she came in on the tracks to the right.  We know this from the direction of the flipper marks but also because her outgoing track crosses over the incoming track near the water.  The large hole in the pile of sand is known as her body pit.  This is basically where she sat and worked digging and depositing her eggs.  Its like an imprint of her body.  The pile of thrown sand behind her body pit is where the egg chamber is located.

Measuring the nest

Once the eggs are located, a volunteer measures from the top of the sand to the top of the eggs.  This gives us the depth to the egg chamber.  Next, the team will add data loggers into and around the nest site.  Data loggers give us valuable hourly temperature readings as the nest develops.  This is due to metabolic heat being given off by live hatchlings.  A higher reading inside the nest means the eggs are developing.  We can also use temperature data to help predict a time frame when the turtles may hatch and emerge.  Sea turtles develop a little quicker in a hotter nest then in a colder nest.

Eggs being replaced after a data logger is added into the nest

Finally, the team secures the nest site with some stakes and colorful flagging so beach goers can avoid disturbing the eggs.  Now we wait to see if these eggs will develop and emerge as the next generation of sea turtles.

Protected nest site

  • nest number: 41
  • town: Southern Shores
  • date eggs laid: 08/16/2022

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