MANY OF OUR visitors ask questions of all our volunteers. One of the most frequent comes up when we use the expression “false crawl.” This occurs when a female nesting turtle crawls up onto the beach, creates distinctive tracks, and then turns around without nesting and crawls back into the ocean.
Most of the time our experienced volunteers can tell by first glance because there appears to be no nest site. A nest site is a large round disturbed area of sand created by the nester to bury and then safely cover the nest. Even when there is a nest pit with disturbed sand it is always a challenge to find the exact location of the eggs so that we can insure that the area is marked and protected. It is believed that a false crawl may be the result of disturbance by lights, humans or fireworks, frightening the potential nester back into the ocean.
At this writing Emerald Isle has 49 nests. It is an unprecedented number not seen for many years. According to Dr. Matthew Godfrey the numbers are up all over the North Carolina coast. That is an encouraging sign as long as the subsequent hatch rates are also high.
After a nest is put in, our volunteers begin to monitor the nest for signs of hatching. Once the hatching takes place, they will excavate the nest and count the eggs shells left behind by the newly emerged turtles. Visitors and volunteers alike are always amazed that such small and delicate looking creatures have emerged from an egg, dug their way to the surface, crawled to the ocean and still have to swim to the safety of the Sargasso Sea, where food is plentiful and the waters are calm.
Our program volunteers asks all visitors to our beach to report any activity seeming to disturb a nesting sea turtle, a sea turtle in distress, an established nest site or emerging hatchlings. Emerald Isle Police Dept. is always ready to respond and assist when called. The number is: 252-354-2021.