VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — What a find for Virginia Aquarium staffers!
Locals at the North End of Virginia Beach discovered sea turtle crawl lines Friday morning in the sand and they alerted the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Team.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center found the nest, and according to replies in a post on Facebook, they cited that the nest was found north of Sandbridge, but they moved it above the high tide line to a secluded area in order to prevent potential interactions and give the babies the best chance of survival.
Virginia Aquarium vet technician Tiffany Zorotrian said that she and the team followed the lines until they discovered the nest.
“We dug around the area trying to find a nest and eventually found the eggs. It was quite close to the high tide line and therefore quite close to being inundated by a super high tide,” said Zorotrian.
The team encircled the nest in caution tape and covered the eggs in plastic netting. Zorotrian said the goal is to protect the eggs and that no one should touch the nest.
“It is actually a federal offense because they are an endangered species. Interfering in their life in any way is considered a federal offense,” said Zorotrian.
Seven-year-old Bryce Buhrman wants to be a marine biologist. He visited the nest Wednesday and said that he hoped people would leave the nest alone.
“I like this sign that says please do not disturb the sea turtle nest. Sea turtles are rare and endangered. So, I’m excited to see these newborn creatures that were just born from a very rare species,” said Buhrman.
Zorotrian said that it takes around 60 days for sea turtle eggs to hatch, but that chances are still slim for turtles.
She said that Loggerhead turtles start reproducing around age 25, which is why they’re going extinct.
“Their survival rate is very low, so even though they lay a lot of eggs, we’re not seeing a lot of them reach juvenile status. Then the turtles that do reach it often have vessel interactions or interactions with humans. There’s just a lot of things that can happen to them,” said Zorotrian.
Zorotrian said, for now, the team is focused on not letting predators get to the nest.
“We get lots of foxes, raccoons, birds of prey, coyotes and also people’s dogs,” said Zorotrian.
But, she said that on the day the eggs hatch, her team will be by the turtles’ side to guide them to the water.
“We’ll have volunteers and staff available if they get stuck in a rut, or if a seagull, owl or ghost crab is trying to get them. We’ll try to keep the predators away,” said Zorotrian.