24 Sep 2021
It’s been a record year for sea turtle nests at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge according to US Fish & Wildlife.
In a September 24 press release the agency reports, “Sea Turtle nesting season is coming to a close. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge saw a record year! With 47 nests, 45 Loggerheads and 2 Green Sea Turtles, this is the most nests we’ve observed in 41 years. Special thanks to all our Turtle Patrol riders for monitoring nesting activities all season! Now is the time for hatchlings to emerge and make their way to the ocean for a long journey.”
Nests don’t necessarily mean they’ll be a record number of hatchlings scooting along the sand hoping to get to the water before a predator gets them. But it is a good indicator that sea turtle populations that were in decline for a number of years are recovering.
Although the Outer Banks is an important part of the sea turtle nesting count, it is only one of a number of sites that track nests, and overall, there has been a noticeable increase this year along the Eastern Seaboard.
Why the increase? That, as the saying goes, is the $64,000 question.
There is speculation that COVID restrictions led to fewer people on the beach which led to less disturbance. A good theory, but it doesn’t hold up on the Outer Banks where we have had record visitation for the past two summers.
A more likely reason is the concerted effort by wildlife management officials to tell people how important it is to not disturb nests and to avoid bright lights at night is starting to turn the tide.
The bright lights do not affect the nest, but the hatchlings are naturally drawn to bright lights and if they see one will go to it even though it’s on land. If the turtle don’t make it to the water to grow to adults and mate, they certainly won’t be laying eggs and making nests.
The Outer Banks is truly a place of wonder. Plan your time of discovery at a Brindley Beach Vacations home.