RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) reminded beachgoers Thursday what they can do to keep sea turtles and hatchlings safe during nesting season.
Female sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs on the beach along the North Carolina coastline from May to September.
Artificial light can deter females from coming ashore to nest and can disorient sea turtle hatchlings trying to find their way back to the ocean.
Disoriented hatchlings that wander inland often die of dehydration or predation.
Residents or visitors to the beach can help by turning off outdoor lights and closing blinds or draperies after dark.
People walking on the beach late at night should refrain from using flashlights or cellphones.
Other tips for beachgoers to help protect sea turtles and hatchlings during nesting season include:
- Remove all beach equipment when you leave
- Fill in all holes in the sand at the end of the day
- Pick up all your trash when you leave
- Properly dispose of any fishing line (fishing line can be deadly to turtles, birds and other marine animals)
- Do not build beach campfires during the nesting season (hatchlings have been known to crawl into the fire or ashes and die)
- Use your natural vision and moonlight when walking the beach at night
- Leave tracks left by sea turtles undisturbed
If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, keep your distance and remain quiet and still. Resist the temptation to use flash photography.
Sea turtle nests are usually clearly marked with red or yellow tape by volunteers. The top of the nest may be covered with fencing to help prevent predators.
Six of the seven species of sea turtles found worldwide are threatened or endangered in the United Sates.
All sea turtles in North Carolina are protected by both state and federal laws.
Five sea turtle species reside in North Carolina waters; however, the most common species found along this coastline are the loggerhead and green sea turtle.
If you find a dead or injured sea turtle on land or in the water, call the N.C. sea turtle hotline 1-(252) 241-7367.