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Town of North Topsail Beach

North Carolina
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Turtles

 

One of the many things that make Topsail Island special is its affinity toward sea turtles.  The island is one of the most northern nesting sites in the world where loggerhead turtles come annually to lay their eggs. That, along with the only sea turtle hospital in North Carolina, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, makes the island an instant hit among sea turtle enthusiasts of all ages.

 

Here along the NC coast, the nesting season runs from mid-May through August.  Volunteers survey the 20+ miles of coastline along Topsail Island each morning during the nesting season to identify sea turtle tracks and nests. It is normal to have a varying number of nests each year.  Female loggerheads come ashore to nest 3 to 5 times during a nesting year.  Each time she deposits an average of 120 eggs; known as a clutch.  The eggs will incubate for about 60 days. When it is hatching time, the baby turtles will emerge together and race to the sea.  They have many obstacles to contend with.  Weighing in at about two ounces, they must outrun the ghost crabs, shore birds, and wild and domestic animals looking for an easy snack. Once in the water they must hide from predators such as birds and fish.  It is estimated that only one in 1,000 survives the first year and only one in 10,000 survives to adulthood.  At that time the females will return to the beaches where they were hatched to lay their eggs.  The cycle then begins once again.

 

As tough as turtles might look with their armor like shells, they can actually be quite vulnerable to injuries.  Cold snaps, sharks and run-ins with boats and fishing nets are just some of the hazards that sea turtles face. That is where the sea turtle hospital comes in.  At the hospital, volunteers nurse back to health any turtles that may be ill or injured. To volunteer at the hospital, call 910-328-1000.  Specific donations may be mailed to "Sea Turtle Hospital", P.O. Box 3012, Topsail Beach, NC 28445.  You can also get more info on their website www.seaturtlehospital.org