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turtle300.jpg Submitted by WWAY on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 4:30pm.

Along with celebrating Halloween Friday, volunteers in Topsail Beach are celebrating the official end to sea turtle nesting season. Though it was a successful year, with thousands of baby turtles hatching, officials said there is still a long way to go before they can be pulled off the endangered species list. Volunteers at the Topsail Beach Sea Turtle Hospital work tirelessly year-round to protect and nurse sea turtles to good health. They have seen their hard work pay off. This year's nesting season producing 89 nests on Topsail's beaches. This comes after a record low season last year, with only 55 nests. Nesting program director Terry Meyer, said, "You might have high years and you may have low years, but since 1999 we haven't had more than one hundred nests in a season. So while we are delighted to have 89 nests this season, its still below the averages for the 90’s." The 89 nests produced more than 6,000 hatchlings. The sad truth is that maybe only one or two will grow to reach full maturity. Meyer said pollution, dangerous fishing practices, and overall careless behavior by humans keeps these creatures on the endangered species list. "There's a lot to swim in and out of, between leaving our beaches at 2 ounces and returning here twenty years later at 350 pounds," added Meyer. Meyer said all they can do is continue to spread awareness about protecting sea turtles and hope the community will chip in. "We need them to not disturb the nests, we need them to report disturbed nests. We need them to keep their lights out at hatching time. So it's a constant process," she said. Volunteers said the storms we had last month also made it difficult for hatchlings to survive. A few nests were washed away due to heavy rainfall and winds.

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