EMERALD ISLE – The Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol has found 17 turtle nests on the strand, as well as seven false crawls, since the season started in late spring.
Unfortunately, according to Dale Baquer, head of the volunteer team that patrols the beach daily looking for and marking turtle nests, two have already been tampered with maliciously within the past few days.
One, she said, was tampered with Thursday night, and that one and one other were both tampered with Friday night.
“The police are aware and a report has been filed,” she said. “This is not an innocent prank.”
Ms. Baquer asked people to educate themselves and their children and noted that tampering with the nests of the endangered and threatened sea creatures is a federal offense, punishable by a $50,000 fine.
In the Thursday night incident, Ms. Baquer said, stakes that mark the nest were pulled up and broken, the nest was “walked across” and there appeared to have been some digging. A beer can was found there, she said.
The sea turtle patrol does not give out the locations of turtle nests, but they are marked and fairly visible to folks on the beach.
The team is in the process of putting up new signs warning against tampering with nests.
Elsewhere on Bogue Banks, so far this season, three sea turtle nests have been found in Atlantic Beach, one in Fort Macon State Park, three in Indian Beach/Salter Path, six in Pine Knoll Shores and two at Hammocks Beach State Park, across Bogue Inlet from Emerald Isle in Onslow County.
The most in the area, as usual, have been found along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, where the number so far is 127. That’s second in the state to the 135 nests found so far along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Figures come from seaturtle.org
Last nesting season in Emerald Isle, the turtle team found 15 nests, which Ms. Baquer considered a good year. Totals elsewhere on Bogue Banks and nearby were 11 in Atlantic Beach, eight in Indian Beach/Salter Path, 12 in Pine Knoll Shores, 20 in Fort Macon State Park and 16 in Hammocks Beach State Park.
Final 2020 totals in Cape Lookout National Seashore and Cape Hatteras National Seashore were 239 and 224, respectively.
The vast majority of the nests are loggerheads. Statewide, in 2020, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 1,382 sea turtle nests. Of those, 1,325 were loggerheads. In addition, there were 45 green turtle nests, eight Kemp’s Ridleys and four were unknown.
In 2019, there were a record 2,358 sea turtle nests on North Carolina beaches.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.