May the Moonlight guide you Home

” For most of the things in the wild depend on the conscience of man kind”.

I open with this quote to show you that we have the power to coexist, and positively impact other animals around us. This photo was taken in Southport North Carolina. During my visit there i got to experience and help guide loggerhead hatchlings to the sea.

Loggerhead turtles are the most abundant or all marine turtle species in the U.S. Loggerheads face many challenges such as pollution, shrimp trawling, and most importantly, development in their nesting areas. All of these factors lead to the placement of loggerhead turtles on the EPAs threatened species list.

They have an huge range including all but the frigid waters of the U.S. oceans. They are primarily carnivores, occasionally eating seaweed and sargassum.

The beach where they hatched is an important part of their life. Mature females, almost every time will travel over thousands of miles, to lay their eggs on the same beach where they followed the moonlight safely into the ocean.

Southport North Carolina, happened to be a breeding ground for the loggerheads. I got to volunteer, and help guide the hatchings to home. Incubation time varies so we did not know exactly when the nests would hatch, so we would wait at the nesting ground to make sure other animals did not reach them in the mean time. The incubation time is typically 45-70 days species dependent. sea turtle nests hatch throughout the yer, but mostly in the summer time. Hatchilings use what is called a carbuncle, this is the temporary egg tooth which they use to break open the shell. After hatching it could take them up to seven days to dig their way through the sand to the surface. while they are all digging to the surface, it is called a “boil”. this looks like water boiling as the turtles venture out. This is mainly to reduce exposure to daytime predators. It is common that some nests will produce hatchlings on a couple different nights. There are many theories as to how hatchlings make it to the sea.

  1. Hatchlings can follow and familiarize light intensities. This causes them to head for the greatest light intensity, which would be the light of the moon reflecting off the open horizon (while watching a crawl you cannot expose to artificial light for this reason. This means no pictures with flash. Picture in heading is taken during inventory of the next in daylight)
  2. During the crawl, they may set and internal magnetic compass.

Once the hatchling reaches the sea, it finds a wave to dive into and rides in the undertow. The hatchling then continues on a “swim Frenzy” where it swims continuously for up to 48 hours. After this swim frenzy, the young hatchling is in open water where they are less vulnerable to predators

The Loggerhead turtles are listed as threatened species. This means that they face a high risk of extinction. Under the Endangered Species Act, this means that It Is illegal to harm, interfere, or bother them in any way, Including their eggs. Creating a setup, as we did allows us to help the species and protect them from any harm, without interfering. This is only 1 of the billions of ways we can help our wildlife. It created an amazing experience for me as well as a sense of hope.






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