Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Turtle Watch Program

Most of the Sea Turtles calling Holden Beach home are Loggerhead Turtles. However, occasionally a Green Turtle visits us. Once a Sea Turtle crawl is found, A team of Turtle Patrol Members assemble at the crawl location to find the eggs. If the nest is in an unsafe location, the nest will be relocated to a safer area on the beach. The nest site is then marked off with stakes, ribbon, and a warning sign that informs people that this is a Sea Turtle Nest and is Protected By The Endangered Species Act.

For the next 55-70 Days of Incubation, the nest will be monitored until hatching. At that time, Turtle Patrol Members account for each hatchling or non fertile egg and insure that the babies make it safely into the ocean. This process is repeated with each and every nest.

The purpose of the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program is to protect threatened and endangered
Sea Turtles from extinction by educating visitors to our beach, by providing a sanctuary and safe environment for nesting turtles and hatchlings, and by aiding stranded turtles. This permit is granted under the guidance of the North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The most common turtle to appear on North Carolina beaches is the Loggerhead turtle
(caretta caretta)

Only females come ashore and that is to lay their eggs. To nest, they return to the beach where they were hatched. They will lay an average of 100 eggs per nest and will nest 4-7 times each nesting season which is every 2-3 years.

The incubation period is approximatley 60 days.

Unfortunately, it is believed that only 1 in 10,000 hatchlings will reach maturity.

The biggest enemy of the sea turtle is the encroachment of man in the sea turtle habitat.
This includes boat propellers, fishing gear, debris and trash, construction on nesting beaches, artificial lights, and pollution.

Natural predators to eggs and hatchlings are ghost crabs, foxes, raccoons, birds, and dogs on land and large fish in the ocean.

The nesting season begins on Holden Beach in May and ends in September.


Turn off all lights that face the ocean (including carports) between May 1st and October 31st.
Call our 24 hour pager (910-754-0766) for any sea turtle sightings or 911 to report any unlawful activities or harassment of a sea turtle.
Please be sure that there is a red turtle magnet with the pager number posted on your refrigerator. Magnets are available at the town hall.
Use a red filtered flashlight when walking on the beach at night. Red cloth to put over your flashlight is available at the Turtle Talk Program or from your island realtor.
Pick up any trash, especially plastic, from the beach.

Click here for more information about the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program http://www.hbturtlewatch.org