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Finding Nests on the Beach

posted: July 2, 2020, 10:20 AM

Beginning in early May a volunteer rides the ocean front beach on Holden Beach every morning looking for signs that the mother turtle has laid eggs. When nests are identified, they are covered with a plastic netting to keep crabs, fox, raccoon and other critters out of the nest. Sometimes if tracks or evidence of animals are seen at a nest an additional metal “cage” is placed over the plastic netting. The nests are then surrounded by caution tapes to keep people and vehicles from accidentally walking on the nest area. I

A “hurricane stake” is also buried within the enclosure. This is a piece of metal that can be found with a metal detector should the other markers be washed away from the nest area during a storm. A GPS is also taken.

A sign (called a nest plate) is placed on each nest. Looking carefully you can decipher the code. The number in the top right corner is the nest number. Nests are numbered in the order in which they were laid on the beach during the season. If there is another number along with the nest number this is the number of eggs in the nest. When you see this number you know this nest has been moved and the eggs counted. If the letters UNK appear that means “unknown” because the nest was left where the mother laid it, so the eggs were not counted. These nests are called “natural” nests.

The nest plate also contains information about the Sea Turtle Protection program and a caution that nests should not be disturbed. There is a #800 number on each plate for people to call the NC Wildlife Resources Commission if they see unauthorized people within the nest area or causing harm to the nest. It is illegal to harass or molest sea turtles. It is also illegal to collect or harm the turtle eggs.

The handwritten phone number 910 754-0766 is the number for the local turtle patrol stranding team. If you see a mother turtle, an injured turtle or a baby turtle on the beach without a turtle patrol member near-by please call this number.





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