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Seeing a baby sea turtle hatch is a rare and exciting occasion. Sea turtles have long been a symbol of open water and a favorite of the marine creatures. Did you know nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered? Sad, but true. These turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems by helping maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs. Not to mention they are so cute!
We are halfway through nesting season (mid-May to early-August) and hatching season (mid-July to late-September) is beginning so we thought we would give an update as well as some reminders of what we can do to help. The Bald Head Island Conservancy has a Sea Turtle Protection Program that involves volunteers tagging turtles and collecting samples and measurements. This information is entered in an ongoing database providing over 30 years of data. When eggs are laid, interns bury a wire cage around the nest to protect it or relocate the nest if it is in a flood area. So far, the 2017 sea turtle season has a count of 31 nests!
While we are limited in what we can do for the sea turtles if we are just visitors, there are some key things we can do to help while on a Bald Head Island vacation. The babies hatch at night and use the light of the moon and stars on the ocean to find their way, using a bright flashlight can disorient them. If you are on the beach at night, putting red cellophane over your flashlight can help. Stop by the Conservancy if you need some for your lights. At the end of your beach day, fill in any holes in your area. Kids love digging in the sand but turtles can fall in them and won’t survive if they can’t get out. Put all waste in appropriate trash cans. Plastic bags can resemble jelly fish, which sea turtles feast on, and can choke them. You can also reduce the use of plastic by bringing reusable shopping bags with you.
We can all chip in to make the beaches safe for our sea creatures and a little goes a long way. For more information, go here and see how you can join the Sea Turtle Protection Program.
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