Boom in sea turtle nests at Cape Lookout National Seashore; portions of beaches closed

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Some beaches along the Outer Banks have been closed off this summer, but it’s for the safety of wildlife.

Cape Lookout National Seashore is seeing a boom in sea turtle nests. This year alone, 470 sea turtle nests have been counted for and they’re expecting more.

It is a record-setting number compared to the 352 nests in 2016. By the end of May, there were 82 nests compared to only 10 in May 2018.

“They really only come to the beaches to lay their nest so it’s a really big moment when a sea turtle comes up,” said BG Horvat, Chief Interpretation at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Some officials attribute this to conservation efforts from decades ago.

“It takes 25-30 years for a sea turtle to come to maturity and be able to lay her eggs…We might be seeing some of the successes of our conservation efforts,” said Tracy Ziegler, Chief of Resource Management and Science, National Park of Eastern N.C.

Ziegler says tracks of loggerheads and green turtles are the two most common. Both are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The growing population has prompted park officials to close certain beach portions. Vehicles will have to take make detours.

There’s also been an increase in shorebird nests. Officials say Hurricane Florence improved nesting habitats for the birds.

Resource managers don’t have a date as to when the closed beaches will reopen. But they do expect more sea turtles in the coming years.

The growing number of nests has also been seen across the east coast including Georgia, South Carolina and parts of Florida.

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