Island Free Press: Majority of sea turtle nests still intact after Hurricane Dorian

A six-foot tall escarpment left by the storm reveals a cross section of a green sea turtle nest. [NPS photo]

On Wednesday evening, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore reported that their Resource Management Team has been busy assessing the impacts of Hurricane Dorian on sea turtle nests within the Seashore, and that many of the active nests were still intact after the storm.

Prior to the storm, staff conducted patrols of Buxton, Hatteras, and Ocracoke beaches to determine which nests were still viable, or had living baby sea turtles.

Pre-storm patrols indicated that there were 166 active nests on the islands, and staff have discovered that the majority of these nests were still viable after the storm. Despite the impacts associated with Hurricane Dorian, only approximately 15% of all of this year’s record-breaking 470 nests appear to have been impacted from nest flooding due to overwash.

“There are still over 75 intact nests remaining along the Seashore and we are already seeing signs of successful hatching,” stated CHNS in a Facebook post.

The park’s beaches have been monitored for sea turtle nesting activity since 1987. Nest numbers here have fluctuated greatly in the last 30 years, with the fewest in 1987 at eleven, and a recent peak of 325 in 2016. The number of sea turtle nests laid annually has grown from an average of 77.4 sea turtle nests from 2000-2007, to an average of 192.2 nests from 2008-2016.

For more information about the sea turtle program at Cape Hatteras visit https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/nature/seaturtles.htm

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.