Welcome back and Happy New Year! Our first 2016 blog post features exciting news off the North Carolina coast recently discovered from this past summer’s nesting season. If you remember, last summer we had a record-breaking nesting season. There were 1,296 reported sea turtle nests. Two of those nests were laid by a critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. This is the first time hawksbill nests have been recorded in North Carolina!
Though the hawksbill sea turtle is sometimes found swimming off our coast in the Atlantic Ocean, there has never been a documented hawksbill nest north of Florida. DNA tests gave scientists the surprising news. Both nests were laid on Hatteras Island on the Outerbanks. The first nest was made in July and had 63 turtles hatch in early September. The second nest was laid nearby 53 days after the first, but was unfortunately washed up by a storm in October.
Hawksbill sea turtles are known for their beautiful shells. Throughout history, this species was hunted for its shell which was made into jewelry, combs, and eyeglass frames. Today, there is a worldwide ban on trading such products but unfortunately, illegal poachers still exist. To learn more about this sea turtle and other species, visit our Sea Turtle Facts page.
Also, this past summer a rare sea turtle nest was discovered near the Aquarium at the Fort Fisher Recreation Area beach. A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle made its nest there in June 2015. Scientists are not sure if hawksbills will continue to nest in N.C. or not. Only time will tell! Who knows what this next nesting season year will bring?
Our loggerhead hatchlings sure have grown since our last blog post in December! Turtle A now weighs 568 grams and is 15.5 cm long. Turtle B weighs 510 grams and is 14.6 cm long. Learn more about what to use with this data in our Hatchling to Yearling lesson plan. Be sure to join us next week as we welcome more cold-stunned sea turtles to the Aquarium!