Nesting Of Sea Turtles Along NC Beaches

Nesting Of Sea Turtles Along NC Beaches

  • Drew Foster
  • 08/18/22

It’s important when vacationing to be courteous to the local wildlife. Several NC beaches are
home to Sea Turtle nests. Most sea turtle nests incubate for 60-70 days, but this time can be
closer to 100 days in colder months. When a nest is found, workers will count the eggs and
protect the nest from predators with a mesh net. A trench will be dug from the nest to the ocean
when the time for hatching is near, in order to give the baby turtles a safer route to sea. One fun
bit of trivia is right before the hatching time, the sand will look like it’s boiling. After the turtles
hatch and go to sea, the workers will excavate the site, count the eggs, find out which turtles
didn’t make it out of the nest, etc.

One of the best things you can do to protect these endangered animals is to keep your phone in
your pocket if you happen to see them hatching or walking down the beach at night. Sea turtles
hatch from May through the end of August. Most of their nests will have workers near them
during hatchings, but not always. Baby sea turtles will walk towards any light they see, and the
light from a smartphone, flashlight, or flash-photography may cause them to change direction
and walk away from the ocean. Sadly, this will result in the death of any baby sea turtle that
doesn’t make it into the ocean.

It may come as a surprise, but if a lost baby turtle is just placed into the ocean, their chances of
survival are much lower than if they make it there on their own; it’s not as simple as placing a
baby turtle into the ocean manually if they are walking the wrong way. It may be tempting to get
excited at how cute they are, but staying as quiet as possible will help the turtles from getting
distracted and moving towards the sound of your voice. Try to stay behind the turtles or off to
the side, and crouch low if possible.

You may notice most of the beach-front houses keep their house lights off at night, and
protecting the sea turtles is a big reason why. If you happen to be renting a home or staying in a
beach front property, try to keep any exterior lighting off during the night. If you happen to
stumble on turtles hatching and no one is around, also don’t touch them. Humans and turtles
each have different germs that can harm the other.

And last but not least, if you’re walking on the beach and you see a hatching in progress with no
professionals present, call the NMFS SEFSC Beaufort Laboratory Stranding Hotline at

If you want to learn more about the NC sea turtles, check out and if
you want to check out any sea turtle attractions, visit for more

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