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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest Sends 100 Hatchlings To Sea At Assateague Island National Seashore

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A Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling heads out to sea at Assateague Island National Seashore/NPS

Sea turtle nests and the resulting hatchlings are common at places such as Padre Island National SeashoreCanaveral National Seashore, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but not so much at Assateague Island National Seashore. That's why the news of a Loggerhead turtle nest hatching at Assateague Island is great to hear.

Approximately 100 hatchlings emerged from a single nest site in the Maryland Over Sand Vehicle zone and successfully made their way out to sea. Although multiple sea turtle nesting attempts have been documented within the national seashore in past years, this is the first confirmed hatch and the largest number of hatchlings ever recorded.

“We are thrilled with this outcome,” said Bill Hulslander, chief of resource management for the national seashore. “This event underscores the increasing importance of undeveloped beaches along Assateague Island to sea turtles and other federally threatened and endangered species.”

In the Atlantic Ocean, Loggerhead sea turtles typically nest on sandy beaches from North Carolina to Florida. It is rare for loggerheads to nest north of Virginia, which is why park staff in Maryland are so excited about this event.

The National Park Service monitors nearly 20 miles of Maryland coastline along Assateague Island and reports on all sea turtle nesting activity. The resource management staff engages in early morning patrols to locate nesting sites for sea turtles and other threatened species like the piping plover. In addition to checking the beaches every morning for signs of nests, park biologists install temporary closures and fencing around breeding sites to minimize human disturbance.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of park visitors when we implement temporary beach closures for these rare species,” said Superintendent Debbie Darden.

As an endangered species, loggerhead turtles are protected under federal law. By obeying the law and following some simple guidelines, visitors can greatly improve the chances of sea turtle survival.

Although there are no additional sea turtle nests expected to hatch this season, park staff will be anxious to begin searches for sea turtles again next summer.

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