Turtles return to Wrightsville Beach

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sea turtle nests No. 5 and No. 6 were found on the Wrightsville Beach south end early this week.

The six nests already mark an increase from the three-nest 2012 season and a significant step up from previous years of only one or two nests on the beach.

“I have had this uncanny feeling since Sunday,” said Nancy Fahey, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project coordinator, about the nest. “I’m just so excited, because they’re certainly doing better than we have in years past.”

Nest No. 5 was also the first time Joy Miller, a WBSTP volunteer of 13 years, spotted a nest during her morning beach walk.

The 115-egg nest is located between Public Beach Access No. 40 and No. 41, and was relocated due to its proximity to the tide line. When nesting, the mother turtle left behind a large mound of sand.

“I don’t know when I’ve seen a turtle throw that much sand,” Fahey said. “She worked really hard. It was amazing.”

This turtle was smaller than the two turtles that left tracks on the beach strand days before the July Fourth holiday weekend.

“They will still nest a couple more times in July. I believe those were the two turtles that nested at the end of May on Wrightsville Beach,” Fahey said about the turtle tracks. “I wish we had nests to prove it but we don’t.”

Nest No. 6, with 122 eggs, located on the south side of Public Beach Access No. 7, was also relocated due to the proximity to the tide line.

Incubation periods for the turtles typically last two months, but can vary depending on certain factors.

“That nest [No. 5] is going to have a couple of things going on,” Fahey said.  “It was relocated and they incubate more quickly when they’re relocated. We don’t know why, but it’s a consistent thing they do.”

The eggs tend to incubate more quickly in the dark sand on the south end than in the fine, white sand on the north end. Also, in higher heat, the eggs incubate faster.

“We’re going to have to pay close attention to that one,” Fahey said. “Last year, our nests hatched out of order and that was why. … You’ve got to watch that sand color because it makes a big difference.”

email kelly@luminanews.com

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