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  • Writer's pictureWill Hedrick

5 Ways to Help Sea Turtles During 2023's Nesting Season

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Loggerhead sea turtle returning to ocean
Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Sea Turtles come onto North Carolina's shores from May through September to lay their eggs. NC is home to over 300 miles of beach habitat that make it perfect for these sea turtles to create their nests.

Five sea turtle species can be found in North Carolina's waters: The Loggerhead, The Leatherback, The Kemp's Ridley, The Green, and The Hawksbill. The Loggerhead is the most common sea turtle to lay its eggs on North Carolina's beaches. All sea turtles are state and federally protected by law.

While the sea turtle's nesting season aligns perfectly with the summer season for beachgoers, it is important to talk about these 5 ways we can support sea turtles during this important time of year.

Turn off or minimize your beachfront light

Bright lights can disturb and prevent female sea turtles from making their way onto the beaches to nest. Sea turtle hatchlings have an inborn tendency to crawl toward the brightest objects. These lights can attract the hatchlings away from the ocean and inland - where they often die of dehydration or fall to predators.

If you live on a beach, you can use blinds or drapes to block or redirect the light. The best solution is to turn your lights off when it darkens out. In addition, preventing the use of flashlights when walking on the beach at night is important - you might be surprised how bright it can be using your natural vision and the moon.

sea turtle hatchlings returning to ocean

Clean up

Recreational equipment like beach chairs, umbrellas, trash, boats, coolers - whatever you might bring to the beach - can all obstruct female sea turtles attempting to nest and their hatchlings. Make sure not to construct fires during the summertime as well. As mentioned earlier, hatchlings are attracted to the brightest light and could crawl into the fires on their crawl to the ocean.

Taking Care of The Beach

All year round, if we are able to take care of the beach, it will make both the female sea turtle and the hatchling's lives easier. First, make sure that we properly dispose of all garbage. Sea turtles can mistake items like plastic bags, styrofoam, or helium balloons for their next meal easily.

Avoid trampling surrounding dunes and beach vegetation. Use boardwalks and other walkways to get around the beach. This can reduce beach erosion and give the female sea turtles more potential areas to nest and a healthier beach overall.

Female sea turtle laying eggs

When you see a turtle

If you see a sea turtle on the beach, remain distant, quiet, and calm. Do not use any lights or flash photography that could disturb the turtle. In addition, once the sea turtle has left the area, leaving the tracks in place is extremely important for research and identification of the turtles by supporting organizations.

As well it is extremely important to leave nests and hatchlings alone. Keeping your distance, remaining quiet and calm, and leaving all flashes and lights off are important.

Donate & Join Us

The Hedrick Project has a project dedicated to Sea Turtles. Our Sea Turtle Project partners with Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Karen Beasley rescues, rehabilitates, and releases sick and injured sea turtles. They also conserve, protect, and monitor nesting habitats to ensure the turtles have the best chance possible of surviving.

Donate monthly to best impact sea turtles. Know that 100% of your donation will go directly to our partners at the Karen Beasley Center.


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