We’re at the point in time this summer when sea turtle nesting season in Ocean Isle Beach, NC is waning, but the hatching portion of the season continues. The nesting season typically runs from May through August. The typical incubation time for sea turtle eggs is 60 days, but depending on other factors like shade, cooler temps, and those laid earlier in the season, the eggs could take up to 100 days to hatch. So, we’re in prime hatching time!
Today we’re focusing on the hatching portion of a sea turtle’s life cycle as they fight to survive once out of the shell. After the mother sea turtle lays the clutch of eggs, they’re on their own to survive from that point forward. We think you’ll agree that these little ones are pretty amazing.
Watch This Sea Turtle “Boil” to See How They Hatch
The Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization (OIBSTPO) makes it their mission to provide a safe and protected environment for all sea turtles that frequent the island of Ocean Isle Beach. The OIBSTPO is an independent division of the Ocean Isle Museum Foundation. In addition to identifying and marking nests on Ocean Isle Beach, they also protect hatchlings from predators, transport sick and injured sea turtles to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Topsail Island, while also educating the public through it all. They captured this video, and it is truly amazing to watch. You can absolutely see why they call a sea turtle nest hatching a boil.
If you’re interested in volunteering your time during sea turtle nesting and hatching season in Ocean Isle, NC, you can reach out to them at the above link for more information. You can also attend theSea Turtle Talks that happen over the summer months. They are very informative, and we highly recommend them.
Now, watch this Ocean Isle Beach sea turtle hatching video!
A Few Sea Turtle Nesting & Hatching Facts You May Not Know
- Loggerhead turtles are the primary visitors to the North Carolina Coast, but occasionally a leatherback, a green sea turtle, or Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nest on a North Carolina Beach.
- Female sea turtles lay two to seven nests in a season, though the average is three nests per turtle.
- Each nest has about 120 eggs roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
- The female digs a chamber in the sand about 1-2 feet below the surface and once the eggs are deposited, she covers them up with sand. Except for the distinct track she has left in the sand, the nest is completely camouflaged.
- Once the eggs are laid in the nest, the female never comes back to that nest.
- Females return to the beach about 12-13 days later to lay another nest, but in typical reptilian behavior, in a different location.
- She may lay between 4-7 nests in one season.
- After her active nesting season, the mama turtle then takes two to three years off to recharge her reproductive system.
- Once the water temperatures start to cool again in August, the females move on in search of food and a decent place to reside until it is time to nest again.
- Once ready to hatch, barriers are often constructed by OIBSTPO volunteers to decrease the chance of hatchlings getting stepped on, run over, or confused by lights. They take several days to hatch out and crawl to the surface of the sand. When ready, they break the surface and scramble to the sea. This usually occurs at night and is referred to as a boil. In most cases, hatchlings can make it to the sea without any assistance from humans.
- About 3 days after the hatching, volunteers with the sea turtle watch conduct an excavation, or inventory, of the nest. The nest will be filled with empty eggshells, and each shell must be counted. In addition, some underdeveloped eggs may be present. On occasion, there are a few hatchlings still at the bottom of the nest–ones that didn’t quite make it out with the others. Unfortunately, sometimes these hatchlings are dead, but often they are alive and just need assistance to get out of the nest chamber.