WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Loggerhead turtles can be found all along the Carolina coast from Topsail Island to Holden beach, but unfortunately their existence is being threatened.
Fish and wildlife leaders announced Friday these creatures would no longer be listed as one threatened species but nine distinct population segments.
Jim Lecky, NOAA Fisheries Director of Protective Resources, said, "The advantage of breaking them up into distinct populations will allow us to focus within those specific areas. Each of their threats are at different levels. "
Six of those new segments of turtles have been moved the endangered list while loggerheads in the northwest Atlantic remain on the list of threatened animals.
“They all continue to be challenged by a number of threats: incidental capture, nets that tangle turtles and other species and dredges all have incidental mortalities of sea turtles,” Lecky said.
On Topsail Beach alone, you'll find over 90 sea turtle nests with about 100 eggs in each. Coyotes and other animals looking for a tasty treat have threatened those nests.
Sandy MacPherson, US Fish and Wildlife Sea Turtle Coordinator, said, “Sea turtles are part of the eco system and when the eco system gets out of proportion because of a loss of species, it affects you and I.”
Fish and wildlife professionals say it may just be a matter of time before the turtles on our beaches are considered an endangered species.