September 7, 2008

Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project Volunteers Hard at Work Prior to TS Hanna

Wilmington Star (Full Article)
by Staff Writer Dave Reynolds
Sept. 4, 2008

KURE BEACH - About 100 baby loggerhead sea turtles flapped their way to the ocean Thursday night, finding a new home before heavy rains were expected to drench the dunes at Kure Beach.

Members of the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project helped the silver dollar-sized turtles from their nest in a sort of induced labor just hours before the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna.

Although most turtles leave the nest without help, the hatchlings were at risk of drowning if they weren't out of their nest before Hanna blew onto the scene, said project president Jody Smith.

So volunteers dug into the nest and found most of the turtles ready for ocean life. Smith speculated those turtles possibly hadn't made it out yet because of roots and brush above their nest, which was located near the dunes.

Twenty-four other baby turtles will spend two more days developing at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher before being released on Saturday, Smith said.

But on Thursday night the bulk of the clutch made its way about 100 feet from the dunes to the water.

The turtles, which can easily weigh more than 200 pounds when fully grown, instinctively follow the moonlight reflecting off the water once they emerge from the sand. But a volunteer this night held a lantern in the direction of the waves, offering a little help to the hatchlings.

Thursday's hatching was the ninth for Kure Beach this year, and two more nests remain.

Although the location of one of the nests puts it a risk to be flooded during the upcoming storm, Smith said the turtles aren't far enough along in their development for an intervention.

At Carolina Beach, volunteers have taken precautions to protect the five unhatched nests that remain there, said Nancy Busovne, the town's sea turtle coordinator.

That includes marking their locations with a piece of metal in case Hanna shifts the sand around.

For more information on the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project, visit their
website.

(Photo Credit)
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