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Sea turtles nesting on Currituck Outer Banks

090918 sea turtle

A sea turtle hatchling emerges from an egg in a beach nest.

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From staff reports

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Currituck is known for having an abundance of wildlife, from its sound side bird sanctuaries to its wild horses that have been roaming free in the northern most beaches of the Outer Banks for over 400 years, but something else has also been creating a habitat in this area of the Outer Banks: Sea turtles.

A local volunteer program known as N.E.S.T has been monitoring lots of activity from these wonderful creatures recently in the Currituck Outer Banks, according to the Currituck Outer Banks Travel and Tourism Department.

N.E.S.T. stands for The Network for Endangered Sea Turtles. The non-profit is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the habitats and migration routes of sea turtles and other marine animals on the Outer Banks of North Carolina from the Virginia border to the Oregon Inlet, according to a release from Currituck travel and tourism officials.

Currently the program has sited and marked off four nests in Currituck. After a nest site has hatched, the N.E.S.T. program will excavate the site, monitor the egg count and gather additional scientific data to gage how successful the nest was.

In North Carolina, there are 5 different sea turtle species (Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback). Loggerhead, Green, and the Kemp’s Ridley are the most predominate in the Currituck Outer Banks. Each of their nests  will hold an average of 75 to 150 eggs, the release stated.

Karen Clark, Center Director for the Outer Banks Center of Wildlife Education and Scientific Advisor to the N.E.S.T program allowed Currituck Outer Banks Travel and Tourism Department staff to join her on an excavation to see first-hand how they excavate an already hatched nest and to discover that sometimes eggs as well as stragglers are found that need to be assisted. During this season’s second site excavation, two turtles were found and then safely made their journey to the ocean.

To keep these creatures protected, Director Clark list  ways the public can help:

• Make sure beach chairs, canopies, and toys go home with you at night.

• Fill in holes and knock down sandcastles at the end of the day.

• When walking at night, use red filtered light bulbs for your flashlights so that a nesting sea turtle is not distracted.

• Pick up trash on the beach so that no sea life gets injured.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves into this amazing habitat, Clark said. “We love the beach, the sea turtle’s need the beach, and it’s a shared resource. It’s a great opportunity to make sure the hatchlings are protected and they will have the opportunity to recover as a threatened species. Hopefully, we will be able see them in future generations.”

“Sea turtles give us really great life lessons. As hatchlings work their way to the surface, they really have to work with their brothers and sisters...you’ve got to work together to survive and sea turtles give us that example in the wild.”

For more informationon how you can help sea turtles in Currituck and the rest of the Outer Banks, go to nestonline.org.

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