OBX Sea Turtles (2015) – Nest #20

OBX Sea Turtles (2015) – Nest #20

Nest #20 – Nags Head NC – 6 August 2015
Nags Head NC is on a roll. The Dynasty turtle team will have to relinquish its turtle title. It is now late in the nesting season. Most nests that are laid on the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina after 10 August, or perhaps even earlier, do not have enough warm days to fully incubate. After many cold nights hoping for emergence in past years, the Duck Dynasty would prefer that no more female sea turtles nest this late in the season.

Congratulations to the Nags Head ATV Dream Team for a super year. With a little luck and some warm fall days, hopefully Nest #20 will hatch. Once again, the female turtle laid her nest too close to the sea and the eggs had to be relocated. This was a small clutch—just 61 eggs—but there were surprises in this nest too.

This nest contained spacer eggs. These eggs do not have a yolk, so they will not develop into turtles. They are different sizes and are smaller than viable eggs. We see them often with leatherback turtle nests but rarely with loggerhead nests. It is thought that the spacer eggs take up additional space in the nest and thus allow more oxygen to circulate in the nest. With the leatherback eggs being the size of billiard balls, extra space would be nice.

Peggy Cathey, our turtle ATV patrol leader, documents all of the measurements taken at Nest #20. If we have a bad storm, these measurements will help us find a washed-over nest. This week we had such a storm, and it completely washed-out a nest in Corolla. Tourists found 49 ping pong ball-size turtle eggs bobbing in the waves. They retrieved and reburied them. It will be a miracle if they hatch. Six to twelve hours after a nest is laid, the embryo attaches to the egg. Any jostling of the egg can detach the embryo and prevent it from developing. Bouncing around in the waves during a storm is much more than a jostle. But, as we have found out, miracles do happen.

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