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Contact: Wouter Ketel, 252-728-2250 ext. 3005
Contact: Jeff Cordes, 252-728-2250 ext. 3013
Harkers Island, North Carolina. Superintendent Bob Vogel indicates that the 2006 sea turtle nesting season was a successful one at Cape Lookout National Seashore. A total of 128 loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nests and three green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests were found in the park. The first activity was a false crawl found May 19 and the last was a nest laid on August 24. Almost 15,000 eggs were counted and 10,843 turtle hatchlings successfully made their way out of nests. The hatch success of 73% was the highest since 2002, before the impacts of Hurricane Isabel on the profile of the park’s beaches.
Beaches were patrolled for sea turtle nesting activities by Student Conservation Association interns and National Park Service staff. Thirty nine percent of the nests were relocated to higher ground in an effort to protect them from flooding. Wire screens or cages were used to protect eggs from raccoons. The area of the beach between nests and the ocean was closed to vehicles near hatch time to prevent hatchlings from being accidentally trapped in vehicle tracks.
North Core Banks had 59 loggerhead nests, one green turtle nest and 74 false crawls. 77% of the 7,570 eggs hatched and produced hatchlings that made it out of the nest. The average clutch size was 126 eggs.
South Core Banks had 55 loggerhead nests and two green turtle nests. There were also 56 loggerhead false crawls. Seventy one percent of the counted eggs hatched. It took an average of 61 days for nests to incubate before hatching. Ten nests were washed away by storms in September.
Shackleford Banks had 14 loggerhead nests and six false crawls. 61% of the counted eggs hatched. Three nests were washed away during Tropical Storm Ernesto.
Storms had an impact on the success of nests this year, particularly in the southern portions of the park. Thirteen nests were washed away and six other nests were flooded by storms or high tides and failed to hatch.
The complete sea turtle monitoring report for Cape Lookout will be available in January 2007.