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So Many Sea Turtle Nests this Season!

A baby sea turtle makes its way toward the ocean on St. John. Image credit: Virgin Islands National Park

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday. Today we’re talking turtles!

We are in the midst of sea turtle nesting season here on St. John, so today I thought I’d share a quick little update for you all. As of last week, there have been 17 Hawksbill sea turtle nests found and four Green sea turtle nests found. In comparison, we had a total of 21 Hawksbill, two green, and two leatherback sea turtle nests last season. So as you can see, we’re having a great season so far!

Sea turtles lay eggs on beaches located around St. John. The eggs take roughly 55 to 70 days to hatch, according to the Virgin Islands National Park. Warmer nests typically produce more females, while cooler nexts typically produce more males. Pretty interesting!

When the hatchlings emerge from their nests, they make a mad dash for the ocean. This is a very vulnerable time for the babies, as there are predators both on land and in the sea that can eat them along the way. They can also become disoriented if there is artificial light in the area.

We’re fortunate here on St. John to have Turtle Patrol volunteers. Volunteers monitor an assigned beach once or twice a week from July through November. Volunteers work to identify beaches that provide safe nesting areas for females, as well as determine the number of nests and number of turtles nesting on St. John. They also mitigate any threats to nesting females and hatchlings.

One of the more rewarding parts of being a sea turtle volunteer is having the ability to watch the hatchings scurry to the ocean. For example, volunteers and residents were treated to an excavation on Trunk Bay last month. During that particular excavation, 126 hatchings made it out of the nest and into the ocean. Amazing!

Hatched eggs from a September excavation at Trunk Bay. Image credit: Friends of VI National Park

So what should you do if you come across turtle tracks or nesting activity? Please email or call (760) 470-8995. Please do not disturb or walk in the area, and take pictures to share with the turtle team.

If you see a turtle in distress, please contact the STAR network at (340) 690-0474. And if you see someone mistreating a turtle, please contact the National Park at (866) 995-8467.

Want to learn more about St. John? Take an island tour with us!

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