Posted on 8/8/2016

What You Need to Know About Sea Turtles on Topsail Island


So, how much do you know about Topsail Island's sea turtles? They are locally loved and endlessly fascinating marine reptiles that nest on our local beaches and live in our Atlantic waters. Let's talk about everything you need to know about Topsail's sea turtles, then you can pass what you've learned on to your family and friends. Or just share this blog post with them!

Ready to amp up your Topsail Island sea turtle knowledge? Let's go!


Types of Sea Turtles on Topsail Island

Loggerheads, green turtles, leatherbacks and rarely Kemp’s ridleys sea turtle nests have been recorded on North Carolina beaches. By far the most common nesting species is the loggerhead. The hawksbill is found offshore in North Carolina, but has never nested here. The olive ridley is the only sea turtle that has not been spotted in the waters off the North Carolina coast. It prefers the Gulf Coast shores area.
Speaking of types of sea turtles, a female Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, laid 92 eggs on Topsail Island this June in broad daylight to the delight of onlookers. And the sea turtle lovers rejoiced!


You can read more about this amazing and rare Topsail Island sea turtle nesting event here.



Topsail Sea Turtle Nesting Season

As you may have already guessed, it's prime time for sea turtles here on Topsail Island. Sea turtle nesting season on Topsail's beaches runs from May through October, which also happens to be during the prime tourist season. Did you know that female sea turtles return to their beach of birth to lay their clutch of eggs, no matter how far away they may be? They do!


An average of 775 sea turtles nests are dug by nesting female sea turtles on the shores of North Carolina each year. All sea turtles that nest in the U.S. are either listed as threatened or endangered and there are penalties for killing, harassing or harming these turtles. So it goes without saying that we take sea turtle protection very seriously in Topsail. (Stay tuned for more about that in a future Ward Realty blog post coming soon.)
A female sea turtle lays an average of 100 eggs in each nest. If the nest is left undisturbed, the eggs will hatch on an average within 60 days and the hatchlings will race to the sea before they become snacks for hungry predators. Wildlife is not the only threat to the hatchlings. Beach visitors can also disturb nests and nesting sea turtles, so it's important that we all do our part to make their life journey as successful as possible. 



Protecting Nests, Eggs & Hatchlings on Topsail Island

So what can visitors, vacationers and residents do to help protect nesting sea turtles, their eggs and the hatchlings that emerge? A lot!  

If you are enjoying a great beach vacation locally in a Topsail Island oceanfront vacation rental, please remember to turn off all exterior lights before you go to bed.  Please also draw blinds and curtains to keep interior lights subdued.  Bright lights can disorient the hatchlings and cause them to move inland where there chance of survival is minimal. Here are some other helpful tips.
Important things you can do to help protect our Topsail sea turtle population:


  • Minimize beachfront lighting. 
  • Remove recreational equipment from the beach. 
  • Refrain from using flashlights on the beach at night. 
  • Remove all trash from the beach. 
  • Leave any tracks made by turtles undisturbed. 
  • Don't trample on beach vegetation. 
  • Don't leave holes in the sand. 
  • Don't disturb sea turtle nest markers. 
  • Report unmarked nests, injured or dead sea turtles to local police or sea turtle organizations. 




Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

Located on Topsail Island in Surf City and powered by awesome volunteers, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is one of our area's best sea turtle protectors and local resources. You can visit and see the patients yourself!
All donations to the sea turtle hospital go directly toward food, medical expenses and operating costs since it receives no federal or state funding. Just be sure to check their days and hours of operation before you plan your visit. It's a must-see stop during your Topsail beach vacation.


If you can't get there in person, be sure to check out the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center's website to see all of what they do on a daily basis to help nurture and protect Topsail Island's sea turtles. You'll be amazed!

 Come back next time for a follow-up post on 3 Ways Topsail Takes Care of Its Sea Turtles. You won't want to miss it!



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