November 25, 2014

UPDATE:  Cape Point now open for night driving

By IRENE NOLAN

The stubborn turtle nest at Ramp 44, which is at Day 90 of incubation, has still shown no signs of hatching, but the Park Service has gone ahead and dropped the ban on night driving in the Cape Point area.

The night driving ban has been in place since Oct. 6 to keep potential hatchlings from the nest -- and another before it -- protected from headlights of vehicles on the beach at night that could disorient them.

The ban has become increasingly contentious between anglers and tackle shop owners and the Park Service during the busy fall fishing season, which has shaped up to be a very good one.

Randy Swilling, acting chief of natural resources at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, said today that park biologists were required to keep the nest in place and protected until at least Day 90.

The nest was checked by biologists today, who were allowed at this point to open an egg.  The eggs, he said, are still alive.

The protections around the nest, including the expansion to the waterline, will be kept in place for now, but Swilling proposed -- and acting superintendent Kym Hall agreed -- that the night-driving ban can be lifted.

The chances that the nest will hatch this late in the season with temperatures as cool as they have been are very small.  In the summer season, nests usually hatch after 60 to 62 days of incubation.

At Day 100, the protections around the nest can be reduced to the 10- by 10-meter fence.

Night driving restrictions were also lifted around a turtle nest located 1.8 miles north of Ramp 55.


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