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katie300.jpg Submitted by Katie Harden on Tue, 08/02/2011 - 3:06pm.

TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Topsail Beach has been busy this summer, and not just with tourists. Sea turtles have been making their way to the beach to lay their eggs, but now the are facing some hardships. With more than 90 sea turtle nests on Topsail Beach and more 100 eggs in most of those nests, that's thousands of sea turtles right on our shores. But it's not an easy job to make it from the nest back to the ocean. After more than two months of incubation, the hatchlings finally make their way to the water, but life has already proven difficult for the new turtles. The hatchlings must first survive their incubation period, which is sometimes compromised by natural predators, like foxes and coyotes, who love a tasty snack. Terry Meyer with the Karen Beasely Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach says this has already been a problem for some of the nests on their beaches. "This year, more than ever, we have a lot of fox and coyote that love turtle eggs, and they have been very ambitious and crafty in trying to find those eggs or trying to find the hatchlings," Meyer said. Meyer says the hospital is doing everything in its power to keep the predators away. Volunteers have covered the nests with cages that the foxes and coyotes can not get in, but the turtles can get out. They have also lined the perimeter of the nest with hot pepper or urine to keep the hungry beach goers away. She says she thinks they know just where to look to get their favorite treat. "Each year they're teaching their pups and their kits here's where the turtle nests are," Meyer said. "They mark them off with four posts and orange flagging tape, and I think they're learning that it is a nest, so it's a challenge, but all the North Carolina beaches share that challenge." Meyer says people can also harm the nests, but she thinks they know better than to mess with the sensitive area. She says it is everyone's responsibility to keep the turtles safe and sound. So far, there are 95 nests on the beach. Ten have already hatched, but a few have already been found and eaten by predators. Meyer says the volunteers will continue to do their best to keep the nests safe.

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