Baby boom! Another record year for turtle nesting in Cape Hatteras Nat’l Seashore

Green sea turtle found off Rodanthe. Her nest contained 151 eggs. [photo courtesy National Park Service]

Another potential baby boom of sea turtles is setting up for later this summer along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, as a new record has been set for nests found on the beaches from Coquina Beach to Ocracoke Inlet.

It’s the third time in the last five years a new record has been set, indicative of an overall explosion in nests found along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida in 2019.

A total of 329 nests have been located by National Park Service staff. That tops the previous record of 325 set in 2016.

Loggerheads have laid the most nests with 317, followed by 11 green sea turtle nests and one extremely rare Kemp’s Ridley turtle nest.

Along the northern beaches of Currituck and Dare counties, 21 nests located this year. The most recent was found Sunday off Nags Head.

And there is still plenty of potential for even more, with just over a month left in the nesting season on the Outer Banks.

“We are encouraged by the increasing numbers of sea turtles using Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches to nest,” stated Tracy Ziegler, chief of Resource Management and Science, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina.

“According to our estimates, almost 11,000 sea turtle eggs have been deposited in beaches on Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke islands.”

Visitors along all area beaches are asked to be aware of sea turtle nesting activity or hatchlings.

If you see turtle tracks, nesting activity or hatchlings on Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches, notify park biologists by calling 252-216-6892.

That includes Coquina Beach, Oregon Inlet, Pea Island, Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras and Ocracoke.

For the beaches of Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, contact the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles at 252-441-8622.

The majority of current sea turtle nests aren’t expected to impact recreational access for updated Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Get more info on beach access information, go to: http://go.nps.gov/beachaccess.

Visit http://seaturtle.org for more information and to track nesting activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and around the world.

Learn more about NEST’s activities and track the progress of nests found on the northern beaches at http://www.nestonline.org/

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]