12 Jul 2019
Cape Hatteras is in the midst of a very active turtle nesting season! As of July 12, 2019 293 nests have been identified and marked on Hatteras Island. The first nest hatched on July 9 and the majority of the remaining nests are expected to hatch throughout the rest of July and August.
Many of these nests are located on public beaches and may be available for viewing during hatching, depending on the location. Most nests also undergo excavation a few days after the eggs hatch, allowing the National Park Service to determine exactly how many eggs were present. Closely monitoring turtle nesting and hatching activity is crucial to the recovery of these endangered turtle species. Excavations are often open to the public and you can learn more about upcoming excavations by contacting NPS at 252-475-9629.
It is imperative that visitors and residents observe signs and restricted areas for nesting turtles. Eggs are extremely vulnerable during incubation and immediately after hatching. Visual cues guide hatchlings to the ocean however during this short migration they are susceptible to losing their way due to light pollution. Ghost grabs and birds are also aggressive predators of hatchlings. Once they reach the water, they swim for 24-36 hours in order to reach the Gulf Stream, where the seaweed nurseries help to protect them during the first few years of their lives. It is estimated that fewer than 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
July and August is a wonderful time to visit Cape Hatteras if you are interested in experiencing sea turtle activity! To learn more, visit https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/nature/seaturtles.htm