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of sea turtles come ashore in North Carolina each summer on a journey mapped
before they were born. These loggerheads, leatherbacks, ridleys and green sea
turtles lay eggs by the hundred, then return to the sea. Thousands of
hatchlings emerge and follow their instincts across the ocean miles — and
possibly back to the same beach to lay eggs of their own.
odds are against them. Animal and human raiders target the eggs in
the sand-covered nests. On the trek to water’s edge, hatchlings are vulnerable
to predators and the disorienting effects of manmade light. Sharks and whales
are threats in the ocean. Even larger perils lie close to shore, where boat
propellers, hooks and nets can be lethal, discarded balloons and plastic bags
can cause fatal blockages, and polluted water can poison them. Estimates on the
odds of survival to maturity range from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000.
addition to the good work being done by
the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
in Topsail Beach and the dedication of our aquariums, Bald Head Island plays a
big part in turtle preservation efforts
in the state.
here have watched over sea turtles since 1980. Today, through the Barrier Island Study Center, visitors have a range of opportunities to learn about
turtle activity on one of the highest density nesting beaches within the
loggerhead’s northern range. Among the possibilities are Sea Turtle Patrol
Ride-Alongs, nighttime Turtle Walks and
screenings of “Turtle: The Incredible Journey!”
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