It's Officially Sea Turtle Nesting Season
Sea turtle nesting season has officially begun along the southeastern coastline!
Scientists and environmental groups in Georgia, Texas, and the Carolinas are celebrating the start of the pivotal period for the endangered creatures.
There are four sea turtle species that nest on mainland U.S. beaches: Kemp's ridley, loggerhead, green, and leatherback. Kemp's ridley, the smallest of the species and the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world, primarily nest on the Texas Gulf Coast. Padre Island National Seashore announced its first Kemp's ridley nests of the season in late April.
According to WABE, teams surveying the beaches in Georgia found five loggerhead sea turtle nests on Tuesday—with four on Cumberland Island, and one on Sea Island.
In South Carolina, the state's first nest of the season was laid on Monday by a loggerhead mama on Lighthouse Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. A few days later, Hilton Head Island's Sea Turtle Patrol reported its first loggerhead sea turtle nest of the 2022 season on Sea Pines beach.
North Carolina's first sea turtle nest of the season was reported on May 4 at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
Though the official start of sea turtle nesting is May 1, things get going much earlier in Florida, where nearly 90% of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. occurs. This year, leatherbacks began nesting there as early as late March.
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As nesting season continues from in beaches all over the South, residents and visitors are asked to help protect sea turtles by cleaning up after trips to the beach, filling in holes, knocking down sandcastles, and most importantly, by keeping lights off at night.
Female sea turtles will continue to nest for the next month or so. Sea turtle eggs have an incubation period of about two months, so be on alert for these endangered creatures through October.