Preparing to Hatch

The trip from the nest to the water is a dangerous one for newborn turtles. We can help here too.

About 60 days after the nest is laid, it will be time to hatch. When a sea turtle nest is ready to hatch, the sand above the nest will drop a few inches. This is due to the eggs hatching within the nest.

This drop in the sand alerts the nest watchers to watch for the nest to hatch within the next few nights. The nest parents will begin preparing the area for the turtle hatchings.

This process varies from group to group. Many groups have begun using yard edging to help the hatchlings to find their way to the oceans. The edging will be laid from the water’s edge, up and around the back of the nest, and back to the water’s edge. Many groups will then dig a trench within the edging from the nest to the water. This helps to funnel the turtles down to the water.

When sea turtles hatch from a nest, it is called a boil. This is because the turtles come out of the sand so quickly, and in such a large number, it looks like the sand is boiling. Then the hatchlings race for the water. Some groups use a flashlight to guide the hatchlings to the ocean. Sea turtles are attracted to the light of the moon and the flashlight is used to mimic the moon light on the water.

Photos and video courtesy Bald Head Island Conservancy.