Protecting Sea Turtles

by Jan 13, 2022Animals, South Brunswick

Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization is seeking new volunteers.

Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization held its winter meeting on Sunday, January 9 at the new Ocean Isle Beach Town Hall location at 111 Causeway Drive. The organization encouraged new and returning volunteers to attend.

I first became interested in sea turtles in 2006 on a family vacation to Florida. My husband and I took our two sons to Anna Maria Island for a beach day. While walking along the gulf waters we encountered numerous sea turtle nests. Each was marked clearly with a boundary, a small sign with a warning to the public, and a number. I did some research and scheduled the family to attend a nest excavation a few days later. It was fascinating to learn more about turtles, to see the inside of the nest, to count the partial eggs left behind and discover a few eggs still containing under-developed turtles. At the time, I thought, “I’d like to be a volunteer someday.”

Turtle Protection Meeting OIB

As a new resident of OIB, this was all running through my mind as I entered the room for the OIBSTPO Winter Meeting. “Could I actually be a volunteer to help sea turtles?” I thought. I looked around the room of more than 50 people and saw many of the bright shirts I’ve seen worn by volunteers on the beach.

The meeting began with an educational presentation from Dr. Karen Clark, citizen science specialist, with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

She spoke about sea turtle egg production and gave us an in-depth look at the anatomy of the female sea turtle. The second half of her presentation focused on embryo development, the process that happens once the eggs are deposited into a nest and how the turtle grows and becomes ready to pip or break its way out of the shell. For an egg in a nest at OIB, this process takes 57 days, on average.

Ocean Isle Beach Turtle Protection

Deb Allen, island coordinator for OIBSTPO, continued the meeting with reports from several long-time volunteers. The room erupted with applause when the updated light ordinance was mentioned. It requires all new construction on oceanfront or second-row properties to either have a baffled light or one that shines light downward. OIB leaders are also looking at ways to manage the fox population, as they have proven to be harmful to turtles and nests. In 2021 there were a total of 4,950 eggs in 44 nests. At least 832 turtles were misoriented by artificial lights and 732 were lost to foxes.

As I listened to each volunteer give an update, I quickly realized that many people were very dedicated to this cause and had spent numerous hours protecting the sea turtles. I was glad to be among them, and I’m looking forward to becoming a volunteer in 2022.

There are a number of ways to become involved. OIBSTPO needs volunteers to walk the beach, collect donations at summer concerts, be a nest parent and, most importantly, educate your neighbors on sea turtle protection efforts.

Want to volunteer?
Contact: Kyle McCarthy at volunteeroibseaturtle@gmail.com

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