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

Turtle laying eggs on the beach

At about 9:45 pm, on her last night of vacation, Olivia from NJ incredulously watched a mama Loggerhead sea turtle come out of the ocean and make her way to the dune.  She contacted her friends Parker (NJ), and Ryan and Jaxson of CT.  Although they couldn’t believe what they were seeing, the group knew to call the NEST Hotline.

Wonderful visitors notify nest about a sea turtle on the beach

The NEST Response Team was quickly dispatched and arrived in time to watch mama lay her eggs.  Once Team Lead Susan S, with the help of Jerrica R, were sure mama was laying, they quietly went up behind her and carefully dropped a string into the nest cavity.  The group of onlookers were respectful and quiet as everyone watched mama finish laying her eggs, cover them up, turn, and return rather swiftly to the ocean.  She crawled into the water, caught a wave and was gone in a blink of an eye!

Loggerhead turtle returning to the ocean

The crowd cheered, realizing they just witnessed an incredible event!
Then the work began for the Response Team to set up and mark the nest sight.  The Team knew right were to dig, following the string they found the eggs very quickly.

Below is a picture showing the response team removing a few eggs so they can place a data logger in the middle of the nest.  The data logger collects hourly temperatures within the nest.  Sea turtles are reptiles and they develop based on the average temperature in the nest.  The hotter the nest, the quicker they develop.  Once the data logger is inserted, the eggs are put back exactly as momma turtle laid them.

Adding a data logger into the nest

Mama left a few “spacer eggs” (no yolk, not fertilized) that the team will send out for DNA analysis.  One egg, in this case a spacer egg, is collected from every nest.  The eggshell is sent for analysis of the mother’s DNA.  NEST is part of a large study on the east coast that collects DNA samples so we can learn which turtle moms are nesting in our area, do they prefer to nest in one location or do they travel up and down the east coast laying nests.  We also learn how many times a turtle nests during the summer season and how many years before she nests again.  Finally we can tell if turtle moms are related.  For instance we have discovered a grandmother, mother and daughter have survived to adulthood and are reproducing on our shores.

A little after midnight, the Responding Team posed for a Celebration of Nest #8 picture!

Nest 8 Responding Team

  • nest number: 8
  • town: Duck
  • date eggs laid: 07/01/2023
  • actual emergence date: 8/23/23
  • live hatchlings: 100
  • total eggs: 124

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