OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Sea turtle nesting season is in full swing. One Brunswick County beach town has the honor of being home to the first nest to hatch in our state this season.
Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization nest parent coordinator Peter Maguire says 58 turtles hatched and made their way to the ocean on Sunday night.
“It was laid on May 11th this year, and we have the distinction for I think the first time, of
being the first nest to emerge in North Carolina during the season,” Maguire said.
Maguire says volunteers with the organization begin monitoring nests at day 55 or at the first sign of movement, sometimes called a boil.
“A boil is when 50 percent or more of the hatchlings come out at one time, and the way they emerge, if you look at it, it almost looks like the sand is boiling,” Maguire said.
Island coordinator Deb Allen says while locals and visitors are welcome to watch the nests hatch, it’s important to follow certain rules.
“We encourage lights out, sea turtles dig the dark. We encourage people not to use white
flashlights on the beach, use red flashlights. We encourage oceanfront homes and businesses to turn off their oceanfront lighting, all exterior lighting,” Allen said. “If you can see it from the beach, a sea turtle can see it from the beach, and if they can see it, they’re likely to get disoriented.”
Volunteers dig a trench and line it on either side to cut down on light and noise pollution and help direct the hatchlings to the water. They also install a wire cage to deter predators like foxes.
High school intern Jenna Mangum says volunteering with the organization has been the highlight of her summer.
“It’s just such an unpredictable experience. Because you never know when anything’s going to happen, and it’s amazing and different every single time,” Mangum said.
Ocean Isle Beach currently has 33 nests and the groups hopes to break their record number of 36 over the next few weeks. Click here to find out when you can see a nest hatch, or to volunteer.