In July 2020, I went with my family to Holden Beach, North Carolina for a relaxing vacation. While there, I learned that Holden Beach is not only a popular place for tourists- it is also a popular place for mother sea turtles to stake out a nesting site to lay their eggs. During this vacation, I saw first-hand how an environmentally friendly beach community has banded together with a dedication to preserve the endangered sea turtle population.
The Holden Beach Community decided to create the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol (HBTP). The group was founded in 1989 in an effort to monitor and protect the sea turtle population. This all-volunteer, nonprofit conservation organization operates under the authority of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Starting in May, volunteers begin a dawn patrol of the beach and search for turtle crawls and possible nests. Once a sea turtle crawl is found, volunteers assemble at the crawl location to find the eggs. If the nest is in an unsafe location, the nest will be carefully moved to a safer area. The site is then covered with a protective mesh and marked off with a warning sign. Patrol members start a nightly watch on the nests until all of the hatchlings are released. The volunteers also take an inventory for any unhatched or non-fertile egg and insure that all live babies make it to the ocean. The breeding season begins in May of every year and usually ends in October. A website titled, “The Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program” http://www.hbturtlewatch.org/ provides turtle enthusiasts statistical data on the current nest count, total known eggs, total baby turtles that went to the ocean and the number of false crawls.
Sea turtles have been around for more than 100 million years and they are endangered along with more than half of fresh water turtles and tortoises. World Turtle Day began in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue as a day to celebrate and educate the public about turtles and tortoises. For your enjoyment, please select one of the video links below from the Bellevue University Library’s video collections for more information about turtles and tortoises. A few are listed here:
Leatherback Turtle (Video)
Sea Turtle Rescue (Video)
Threats to Turtles (Video)
Turtle Migrations (Video)