OBX Sea Turtles (2015) – Nest #1
As you know, we usually begin sitting out by the sea turtle nests at Night 55—that is, 55 days after the female turtle came ashore and laid her eggs. Today (11 August 2015) was Day 63 for Nest #1.
The little loggerheads are 18-22 inches beneath the surface. One uses his carbuncle (egg tooth) to peck open his shell. As he moves around, the other turtles begin to peck out. They can stay in the nest, but out of their shells, for four to seven days before emerging and crawling to the sea.
Sometimes we have no clue that they are ready to emerge, and we don’t see any hints until they begin popping out of the sand. Other times they give us a little clue. All of that moving around to get out of their shells causes the sand to sink, which produces a sinkhole. At that point, we know emergence is imminent. They can stay beneath the sand and the sinkhole for several days, but they usually pop out the night the sand sinks.
Tonight at 9:00 PM the sand dropped at the center of Nest #1. An hour later, 106 to 109 little hatchlings crawled out and raced to the sea. When so many little turtles emerge at once it is very hard to count them, so this count is an estimate. When we inventory the nest we will know for sure how many hatched.