Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) – The number of sea turtles making their nests on beaches along the North Carolina coast is up this year, while nestings in Virginia remain about average.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore reports that there have been 247 sea turtle nests identified along the shore in 2013. That breaks the record of 222 in 2012.
In Virginia, staff at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge report that they’ve found nests from 4 loggerhead turtles in Virginia Beach this summer.
Last summer, a record 11 nests were found in Virginia Beach, including a rare nest from a Kemp’s ridley turtle.
“I think we’re always optimistic that we have a high record year that we’re going to have another one the following year, but sometimes it’s just the opposite – you have a high year followed by a low year,” explained Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Manager Doug Brewer.
Three of the four nests in Virginia Beach this year have been moved to the sea turtle nursery at the refuge, which offers better protection from predators.
One nest has already hatched, with another expected to hatch any day.
Biologists at the refuge are also paying special attention to a growing problem facing the turtles – balloons. They’ve begun collecting and cataloging the number of balloons found at the refuge.
Balloons that deflate and end up in the water pose a serious health hazard for the turtles. They often eat them mistaking the balloons for jellyfish, which can be deadly.