More than 400 sea turtle nests have been recorded within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS), shattering the previous record of 325 nests, which occurred in 2016.
As of July 31, there were 414 nests and an estimated 16,504 eggs reported at CHNS, per seaturtle.org. The total count of 414 nests includes 394 loggerhead turtle nests, 19 green turtle nests, and 1 Kemp’s Riley turtle nest.
Sea turtle nests laid by loggerheads, green turtles and leatherbacks have been monitored at CHNS since the 1970s. In 2015, a nesting record of 289 nests was set, followed by a new record in 2016 when 325 sea turtle nests were recorded along the National Seashore beaches.
Now, (and with still a couple of weeks to go before the nesting season typically winds down), CHNS has exceeded these previous records by nearly 100 total nests.
The high number of sea turtle nests appears to be a multiple-year trend all along the Eastern Seaboard, according to data from per seaturtle.org, which actively monitors sea turtle nests all around the world. As of July 31, the site reported a total of 17,590 nests around the globe, which are primarily concentrated on the East Coast.
Due to the highly active nesting season, visitors are advised to be aware of sea turtle nesting activity or hatchlings while visiting the local beaches on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. If you see turtle tracks, nesting activity, or hatchlings, please notify park biologists by calling the stranding hotline at 252-216-6892.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) is also offering park visitors an opportunity to observe excavations of recently hatched sea turtle nests during the months of August and September. An “excavation” is the process completed by biologists to document what remains in the nest after a natural hatch has occurred, and during an excavation, the biologists will dig up the nest, count empty eggshells, and collect unhatched eggs for research.
Information on upcoming excavations can be obtained through the annual program’s hotline at (252) 475-9629, which outlines any upcoming excavation events along Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
In the meantime, visitors can keep tabs on nesting activity at shorelines all around the world at http://www.seaturtle.org.