World's Largest Turtle Returns to North Carolina to Nest
Her precious hatchlings will make their perilous run for the sea in just two months time.
Before this week, it had been six years since a female leatherback sea turtle laid her eggs on a North Carolina beach. On Wednesday, wildlife experts were thrilled to discover that one big mama finally chose to build her nest on the sandy shorts of the Tar Heel State, at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
North Carolina State Parks and Recreation shared photos of the new leatherback nest on Facebook, which is garnering plenty of excitement from the locals.
According to the post, leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, and can grow up to seven feet and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. The species is currently listed as "vulnerable," which is only one step above "endangered."
The News & Observer reports that the area around the nest has been closed off to beachgoers, allowing park staff to focus on keeping the nest safe from intruders and ensure that the hatchlings safely reach the ocean.
But there's only so much humans can do. These baby turtles have a rough road ahead of them.
"Only about one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood," the Facebook post reads. "This is why it's crucial that we help give every one of these hatchlings the best possible chance at life! They are vulnerable to predators in the nest and also dehydration and disorientation during their journey from their nest to the water."
WATCH: This Baby Sea Turtle Make Its Way To The Ocean
The eggs will begin to hatch in 55-60 days. Under natural conditions, roughly 10% of the hatchlings will be eaten by predators on the beach. Only about 25% of those that actually make it to the ocean, will survive the first few days in the water and just six percent will last the first year.
Good luck little guys!