Sunset Beach North Carolina - Loggerhead Turtle Watch
A Central Virginia's Girl's Experience
As we walked over the ramp from the street to the beach the man in front of us told us "the Loggerheads were boiling, they were very active and they were expecting baby turtles, to take a walk at dark about 1 mile down the beach." And we were in! Sunset Beach North Carolina is known for its Loggerhead Turtle Watch volunteer program. They have a "Turtle Show" on Sunday night to fill in all of the arriving guests coming to visit their beach. I had never witnessed a Loggerhead Turtle Watch or a Loggerhead turtle boil as the man had referred to it, so I was in!
After arriving at the site, people in blue volunteer shirts greeted us, hushed us and asked us to stay behing the log, keeping a fair distance from the turtle nest. We were briefed on what to expect and asked to speak quietly, not to use flash photography and if we had any questions to please ask.
These volunteers take this very seriously!
As I approached the nest of the Loggerhead the volunteers were all excited. They said they had clearly seen 2 baby turtle heads and that we should definitely witness the journey of the Loggerhead turtle to the ocean. So we gathered to wait, and wait and wait. It seems that the baby turtles had no desire to show themselves for this Central Virginia Girl!
A crowd gathered and we continued to wait. It was getting dark and it was a moonless night and I wondered if the turtles were going to show. The volunteers explained that if they didn't make it out tonight that they would cover them again to "protect" them until hopefully the next night for their journey.
Loggerheads are named this because they have the largest head. They are not able to retract their head and they can be eaten by fox, birds, and ghost crabs. When they hatch they head for the light of the ocean, but the porch lights of the beach houses sometimes confuses them. The volunteers point them in the right direction, and sometimes carry them to the ocean if the tide is too far away. The volunteers were all gathered around the turtles and they were acting as midwifes.
It is predicated that only 1 of 1000 turtles that make it to the ocean survive to the age of 25. Loggerheads can live to be 100 and they return to their home beach to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch between late July and October. So if you are at Sunset Beach during late July thru early October, be on the lookout for turtle activity.
I am going back to Virginia without seeing the turtles into the Atlantic Ocean.
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