Sea turtle nesting has begun on the Outer Banks. On Wednesday morning, the first nest north of Hatteras was found in Nags Head, according to the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles.
The nest is located outside of the beach renourishment area, but NEST does not reveal exact locations of turtle nests due to federal permit guidelines.
The Nags Head discovery follows two nests found this month at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Staff found the first sea turtle nest, a loggerhead, on May 11 south of Off Vehicle Ramp 38. The second nest of the season, another loggerhead, was found on the beach at the north end of Avon Village May 14.
Sea turtles return to the Outer Banks year after year to lay their eggs by digging nests into the sand.
“The sea turtle emerges from the ocean to make her way ponderously up the beach where, after crawling to a place she deems appropriate, she digs a hole with her back flippers to lay her eggs,” Cape Hatteras writes on its website. “Once she covers the nest, this majestic reptile slowly makes her way back to the ocean using light cues. The nesting process can take between 1-3 hours to complete.”
About two months later, the tiny turtles hatch out of their shells, scatter across the beach and head to the ocean.
Five species of turtles are found along the Outer Banks, the most common the loggerhead and green turtle. Leatherbacks, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridleys also stop by.
Sea turtle nesting season on the Outer Banks begins in May and usually runs through September.