Group works to keep sea turtles safe

The Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project volunteers get up bright and early every morning during nesting season to make sure turtles have a better chance of survival.

Volunteers said the turtles have a small chance of reaching adulthood, so every little bit helps.

"About six of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered," said volunteer Mandy Uticone, explaining that only one in 10,000 sea turtles with live to see adulthood.

There are nine nests on Kure Beach this year. She said on average each nest will have more than 100 eggs, depending on the type of turtle that laid them.

Volunteers search for sea turtle tracks. They will mark off any found nests and put netting over them to protect the eggs.

Uticone said it takes about 60 days for the eggs to hatch and emerge.

Volunteers will dig a trench from the nest to the ocean to help the baby turtles on Day 50. They also will sit next to the nest at night to watch over it until the eggs hatch.

The eggs have a lot to compete against in the wild. Uticone explained predators include foxes, raccoons, and ghost crabs.

The baby turtles will also face sharks, other ocean animals, and poor fishing practices if they reach the water.

"The poor fishing practices can cause sea turtles to drown," Uticone said, urging people to do whatever they can to help.

Uticone along with Dex Shorter, another volunteer, explained people can help make the turtles' trips easier.

Both asked beach-goers to clean up their trash, to not leave chairs or umbrellas on the beach, to cover up any holes dug, and flatten out any sand castles they may have built.

Uticone said people staying on the beach have an important job too.

"Leaving lights off on the beach during nesting season, because they want to go to the brightest place," Uticone said. "That's usually where the moon is over the water, not going back [toward] the dunes."

The group is also part of an event called 'Turtle Talks.' It takes place on Kure Beach at 7 p.m. on Monday.

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