BUXTON, N.C. — Park rangers are looking forward to a "turtley busy" hatching season in the Outer Banks this year.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) keeps track of how many sea turtle nests turn up on the beaches there, and this year, the count is already up to 81.
In 2021, the national park saw 70 nests total, so this is great news for the reptiles.
One of those nests belongs to a Leatherback sea turtle, which hasn't nested in the Outer Banks since 2012, officials wrote. Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtles in the world, and NOAA says their population has been declining in many parts of the world.
"The species that can be found nesting on Cape Hatteras National Seashore are predominately Loggerhead, then Green, but occasionally Kemp’s Ridley, Hawks Bill, and Leatherback sea turtles crawl onshore to lay their nests as well," CHNS wrote in a Facebook post. "Healthy sea turtle populations are important indicators of healthy ocean habitats. They help to maintain balance in oceanic food webs by keeping the populations of their prey, such as jellyfish and mollusks, in check as well as enhancing rates of nutrient cycling."
If you're down at the beach, remember to stay away from areas that are roped off to protect turtle nests.
If you find one that isn't marked, call the National Seashore at 252-216-6892 to let them know about it.