All You Need to Know About Sea Turtles in Emerald Isle
Ah, yes, it's that time of year again on the beach in Emerald Isle and all along the coast of North Carolina—sea turtle nesting and hatching season. It's one of our favorite times of the year as we help these amazing (and absolutely adorable) aquatic reptiles continue their lifecycles right on our shoreline. It's such a privilege to witness and be a part of it all—and you can too! If you're vacationing on the NC coast with us from May through October, here's what you need to know about sea turtle nesting and hatching season on Emerald Isle beach, and what you can do to help.
NC Sea Turtle Nesting & Hatching Season
It's mainly Loggerhead sea turtles that nest in Emerald Isle, and occasionally Greens, but rarely Leatherbacks or Kemps Ridley. Hawksbill are uncommon to EI. Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to nest 3 to 5 times during a nesting year depositing an average of 120 eggs per nest. The eggs then incubate in the sand for about 60 days. After all the hatchlings have pipped out of their eggs, they emerge from the nest together and race to the sea. It's estimated that only 1 in 1000 survives the first year, and as few as 1 in 5,000-10,000 survive to adulthood. You can read more about NC sea turtle nesting and hatching season here.
Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol
The main objective of the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol (EISTP) is to oversee and monitor the safety, process, and progress of sea turtles and their nests during the sea turtle nesting season over a 13-mile beach shoreline. The EISTP is sanctioned by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and is a non-profit organization. The EISTP is a volunteer-based organization and all volunteers must be 18 years or older to participate. So what do you think? Want to come walk Emerald Isle beach with us? You can read more about the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol and what they do here.
Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Program News
You can visit the Town of Emerald Isle's Sea Turtle News page for up-to-date events, activities and information relating to the area's sea turtle population for the current season. See what's happening on our beaches and around town, while also reading up on how you can support and help this local effort. Find out what's going on this month by following the link and checking back often. You can also contact them via email at EISeaTurtlePatrol@gmail.com. You can read more Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Program News right here.
Things You Can Do at Your Emerald Isle, NC Rental and During Your NC Beach Vacation
- FILL IN ALL HOLES that your children or dogs dig. Mother turtles can get stuck, as can hatchlings, not to mention people walking at night can be seriously injured.
- REMOVE tents, toys and beach gear overnight as they can become obstacles to both nesting and hatching sea turtles.
- KEEP OUTSIDE LIGHTS OFF AT YOUR EMERALD ISLE OCEANFRONT RENTAL at night. They disturb nesting mother turtles and distract hatching baby turtles toward the light but away from the ocean, which is where they need to go.
- PICK UP TRASH especially plastic bags. Turtles think they are jellyfish (which is their main food source) and eat them and get sick.
- FIREWORKS ARE ILLEGAL in North Carolina. The noise keeps mother turtles from coming on shore to nest and disturbs baby turtles during hatching.
- CALL THE EMERALD ISLE POLICE at 252-354-2021 if you see a nesting or hatching turtle or anyone disturbing a marked turtle nest area.
- NO FLASHLIGHTS OR FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY If you see a nesting or hatching sea turtle please stay quiet, sit down and enjoy the show.
Thank you in advance for helping out in these small but significant ways. They matter! The sea turtles thank you, too.
More Ways to Help NC Sea Turtles
June 16 is officially World Sea Turtle Day every year, but we consider every day Sea Turtle Day here in Emerald Isle. Here are a few more ways you can learn more about our local sea turtle population and help to protect this beloved marine life.
Visitors to the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on the Crystal Coast can follow the journey of loggerhead sea turtles in the Loggerhead Odyssey exhibit. There is also the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail, NC where you can see the turtles up close, tour the facility and even adopt a sea turtles.
Watch This Video of Sea Turtles Being Released Back to the Ocean in Emerald Isle
Take a look at our local sea turtle experts from the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores releasing loggerhead sea turtles back into the ocean after a cold snap in the weather. We think you'll agree, they are just too cute. We love them and you will, too.
It's the perfect activity to do during you Emerald Isle, NC beach vacation. Enjoy!
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Read more fun facts about these amazing aquatic reptiles here. ⤵️