Discover the Sea Turtles of Ocean Isle Beach

Each year Ocean Isle Beach has thousands of visitors and among those are some very special  sea-going guests. Sea Turtles return to Ocean Isle Beach year after year. While they aren't here for a vacation, we do roll out the red carpet for these majestic creatures. This week we have all the information you need to know about the Sea Turtle of Ocean Isle Beach. 

The Life Of A Sea Turtle

Sea Turtles are migratory. Each year female Sea Turtles return to the spot where they were born to lay their eggs. Sea Turtles use magnetic fields, the slope of the shore, and moonlight to find their way to the perfect nesting spot. Sea Turtles have front flippers instead of claws, which makes them excellent swimmers. 

Female Sea Turtles use their flippers to dig a nest and then lay her eggs, called a clutch. Each turtle can lay up to 100 eggs. Did you know only 1 of 1,000-10,000 eggs survive! 

Eggs will hatch after about 60 days. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the baby Sea Turtles. Warm sand results in female Sea Turtles and cold sand results in male turtles. 

Like their mothers hatchlings use a combination of light, magnetic fields, wave action, and the slope of the beach to find their way to the surf. Once in the ocean, the hatchlings will swim for 24-36 hours to reach the Gulf Stream and the nutrient-rich seaweed beds where they'll spend the next ten years.  

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the Sea Turtles that visit Ocean Isle Beach, check out the folks at the Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization. With the mission of protecting and releasing sea turtles, this is a wonderful organization that we are so proud to have here on OIB. Turtle Talks are a fun way to learn more. They take place on Tuesdays at 7 pm at the Ocean Isle Beach Community Center or 3 pm on Mondays at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. Click on their logo to find out more. See you there!

OIB Sea Turtles

Types of Sea Turtles You May Encounter on Ocean Isle Beach 


Most common in our area (if you see a turtle on the beach most likely it is a Loggerhead). Has an egg-shaped shell. Skin is a tan/blonde hue. It has a proportionally large head.


Very rarely seen on Ocean Isle Beach. Their shell is yellowish brown with a marbled tortoise-shell pattern. Their scales overlap and appear ragged. The Hawksbill's head is slender with a bird-like beak.

Kemp’s Ridley 

This fairly common species have a round shaped shell (length and width are similar). Their color tends to be a dull grayish/green/brown shell. 


Commonly found in our area especially as juveniles. Their shells vary in browns, and appears marbled with sunburst rays in each scute. Scutes do not overlap. They have a creamy underside and have a flat face with serrated lower jaw.


Uncommon in our area and rarely seen nearshore.  These are the largest sea turtles on earth. Leatherbacks are an endangered species. 

See A Sea Turtle Hatchling "Boil" 

What You Can Do To Protect The Sea Turtles

Protecting these beautiful creatures takes all of our efforts. Each one of us can do things to help ensure our sea turtles have a safe habitat to continue their cycle of life. We encourage all visitors to take a look at the list below of things to do and not to do while visiting Ocean Isle Beach. With your help, we can ensure the long-term survivability of these wonderful creatures. 

  • If you see a sea turtle nest. Call the Ocean Isle Beach Police (910) 579-4221 or Ocean Isle Beach Sea turtle Protection Organization Hotline at (910) 880-8715.
  • Keep a safe distance. Keep away from turtles on the beach, especially moving turtles that may be looking for a nesting site. To observe, sit quietly away from the turtle.
  • Leave turtle hatchlings on the beach. Call NEST hotline for directions.
  • Do not use artificial light sources. Turn off flashlights, cell phone screens, and all other ocean side lighting during hatching or nesting events.
  • Respect all nest markers. Report disturbances to the NEST hotline.
  • Throw trash away and pick up litter on the sand and in the water. Remove beach litter such as balloons and plastic bags as they may be mistaken for food in the ocean and ingested by sea turtles.
  • Level the sand. Fill in all holes on the beach at the end of the day as they may become traps for female turtles that generally nest on the beach at night.
  • Remove all beach furniture at the end of the day. Don't leave any additional obstacles on the sand for nesting or hatching sea turtles.
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from sea turtles and nests. Dogs are naturally curious and may cause unintended harm to nesting females, sea turtle eggs, nests, and hatchlings. Dogs are not permitted on the beach between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day, including dogs on a leash. 

Still haven't planned your Ocean Isle Beach vacation? Maybe you want to see the Sea Turtles yourself. If so, we have all the best vacation homes for you and your family to choose from. Our friendly reservationists are here to help you find the perfect Ocean Isle Beach vacation. Give us a call at  (888) 727-9222 or click the button below to start planning your vacation today. 

Comment on this post!