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Home > Atlantic Sea Turtles

Introduction to Atlantic Sea Turtles

There exists seven species of sea turtles world-wide. Four are commonly found on the Atlantic coast of the United States: Green (Chelonia mydas), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta).

Accurate population numbers are difficult to determine because turtles seldom come onto land where they can be counted. What is known is that the population of each of the seven species is in steep decline -- each is listed as 'threatened' or 'endangered' under the Endangered Species Act. While young sea turtles have many natural predators, it's primarily interaction with humans that has caused the collapse of sea turtle populations. Human-caused changes to beachfront areas often interfere with nesting behavior, and will sometimes prevent females from nesting at all. Boating, fishing, and dredging can harm or even kill sea turtles off-shore. Decisions that we make every day about living and playing on coastal lands are extremely important for the survival of sea turtles.

The activities of various researchers are featured in this field trip. Some are investigating nesting behavior and outcomes; others are tracking migration patterns; still others are rehabilitating injured or stranded turtles. Together, they are working to better understand how best to protect and conserve these remarkable animals.


First Report: 2014 Outer Banks Sea Turtles 
( About The Project )
After an unusually late start, the sea turtle nesting season on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is underway. Sea turtle conservationist Jackie Orsulak brings us up-to-date on nesting activity in the area.
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Tracking Turtle Strandings 
( About The Project )
Hundreds of sea turtles are stranded each year off the coast of North Carolina. Volunteers from the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) and other organizations monitor strandings in order to better understand turtle conservation. These groups also work to rehabilitate, and return to the ocean, as many as possible. Page 2 of this article includes datasets and maps related to sea turtle strandings.
[ Full Article | Related Articles ]