MANTEO, N.C. (AP) — There are more sea turtle nests on a portion of North Carolina’s Outer Banks this season than at the same time last year, officials said Friday in observing World Sea Turtle Day.
An update from Cape Hatteras National Seashore said there have been 81 nests laid so far this season, including a Leatherback nest, which officials said was the first since 2012. There were 70 nests at the same time last year.
Healthy sea turtle populations are important indicators of healthy ocean habitats, the National Park Service said. They help to maintain balance in oceanic food webs by keeping the populations of their prey, such as jellyfish and mollusks in check as well as enhancing rates of nutrient cycling.
Loggerhead and Green are most often found nesting on the national seashore, but occasionally Kemp’s Ridley, Hawks Bill, and Leatherback sea turtles crawl onshore to lay their nests as well, the update noted.
The National Seashore advises visitors to help protect sea turtle populations by following off-road vehicle and beach fire regulations, staying out of marked nesting areas and following specific policies when visiting the beach.
All sea turtle species are protected under the Endangered Species Act.