All You Need to Know About Sea Turtles in Topsail

It’s that time of year again on the beach in Topsail Island, North Carolina. Sea turtle time! These cute and quirky reptiles of the sea are endlessly fascinating and absolutely adorable.

Let’s get to know them a little better and talk about what you can do to help during your Topsail beach vacation and where you can go to see them in action. There are also ways you can help the local sea turtle population right from your Topsail vacation rental, as well as on the beach and around town. Here’s what you need to know!

NC Sea Turtle Nesting & Hatching Season

In North Carolina, the nesting season is mid-May through August. The Loggerhead Sea Turtle comes ashore to nest 3 to 5 times during a nesting year. She deposits an average of 120 eggs per nest. The eggs incubate in the sand for about 60 days.

After all the hatchlings have pipped out of their eggs, they emerge from the nest together and race to the sea. Weighing in at about two ounces, their first challenge on our beach is escaping the deadly grasp of the ghost crabs. Once in the water they must hide from both bird and fish predators.

It is a long swim to maturity. It is estimated that 1 in 1000 survives the first year, and as few as 1 in 5,000 – 10,000 survive to adulthood. No one has the answer to this. In 20 to 30 years the surviving hatchlings will reach adulthood. The females will return to their natal beaches to lay their eggs and the cycle begins again.

(Source: Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital)

Where You Can Help Topsail Sea Turtles

Topsail Island has 26 miles of barrier island coastline. Each mile is surveyed every morning to identify sea turtle tracks and nests from May through August. Hatching season usually runs from July through October on the beaches of Topsail Island.

Here are some of the the local places and people who are an integral part of the success of our local sea turtle population’s protection and advancement. They deserve your support!

Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center: This organization is dedicated to sea turtle care and rehabilitation and is staffed entirely by volunteers, so 100% of all donations go directly to the sea turtles that they treat. Since opening they have successfully rescued, rehabilitated, and released close to 400 sea turtles not counting the thousands of hatchlings who needed a bit of help. Like and follow them on the Topsail Sea Turtle Hospital Facebook page for the latest announcements and updates. Visiting hours at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Center start up again for the season on April 5, 2018.

Salty Turtle Beer Company: The Salty Turtle Beer Company is all about being a neighborhood brewery. They have partnered with Karen Beasley’s Sea Turtle Hospital and other local organizations that give back to the community. When you support them with your patronage—you’re in turn supporting Topsail Island sea turtles, as a portion of the funds are given directly to the sea turtle hospital. Drink some beer and save some sea turtles all at the same time. Cheers to that! Find out more about who they are and what they offer on the Salty Turtle Beer Company’s Facebook page.

NC Sea Turtle Project and SeaTurtle.org: The NC Sea Turtle Project, run by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management, is committed to monitoring North Carolina’s sea turtle population. This project would not be possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers, as well as many organizations and agencies. They are an awesome sea turtle resource both locally and regionally.

More Ways to Help Sea Turtles

So what can you do to help while you’re here vacationing on Topsail beach and enjoying your Topsail Island vacation rental? A lot! Here are some more tips on how you can actively protect and preserve Topsail’s sea turtles during nesting and hatching season. We thank you in advance for helping!

Volunteer your time with a local sea turtle organization. If you stay on Topsail Island throughout the summer months, consider volunteering with a local sea turtle organization. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital has new volunteer orientation for 2018 on April 10th from 6-8:30p.m. and on April 17th 1- 3:30p.m. at the Surf City Welcome Center. You can find out more by emailing: topsailseaturtle@aol.com. You can also click here to find a local seaturtle.org volunteer group near you.

Minimize artificial light on the beach and in your Topsail oceanfront vacation rental. Nesting females are often scared away by flashlights, headlights, and fireworks. Although turtles are persistent and will attempt to nest either the same night or the next, too many false attempts at nesting will eventually require her to “dump” her eggs in the ocean. Eggs cannot develop underwater. Hatchlings also become disoriented by bright lights like walkway lights, or even inside lights or porch lights. They will attempt to cross over the dune and often end up tangled in vegetation or become easy prey once the sun begins to rise. Remember to turn off all porch lights when not in use at your Topsail oceanfront rental, and close the drapes so internal lights aren’t visible from the beach.

Remove recreational equipment from the beach. After your fun day at the beach, be sure to remove any furniture or toys from the beach, or try to stack them together as neatly as possible. Turtles have been known to get tangled up in beach chairs and tents as they make their way up the beach.

Remove all trash from the beach. Never litter, and do your part to pick up trash you see on the beach, in the park, or on the side of the road. Even when not near a beach, all litter has the potential of being carried by the wind and making its way into our waterways and onto our beaches. Turtles can mistake garbage as food, especially plastic bags and balloons, which look like jellyfish. Garbage in general degrades the health of the beach environment, making fewer suitable places for turtles to nest, feed and live.

Leave nesting female sea turtles undisturbed. If you come across a nesting female, or a female that is making her way up or down the beach, admire her from a distance. Movements, voices, and even strong smells (like cologne) could scare her away. Crouch down and stay very still. Even though turtles are rarely disturbed once they begin laying their eggs, it is best to keep your distance throughout the event. Give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness and you’ll be able to watch her without the need of flashlights.

Don’t leave holes in the sand. Large holes that are fun to dig should be filled in before nightfall. Not only have these holes been deadly traps for nesting females, they prove very dangerous for people walking on the beach at night as well.

Don’t disturb sea turtle nest markers. Areas that have been roped off or labeled as “off-limits” in order to protect the nest and hatchlings should be respected. Keep your dogs on leashes and make sure young children understand. Remember, sea turtles are protected under federal and state law and any activity that threatens that protection could be punishable.

Report any sea turtle activity. If you see any sea turtle activity, report it as soon as possible. The most important to report are sick or injured live turtles that need immediate care, and dead stranded turtles need to be tended to in a timely fashion. Call the NC Sea Turtle Project pager number at (252) 247-8117 and wait for a return call. Information on nesting females, turtle tracks, or hatching events is also greatly appreciated; call (252) 728-1528 or use the pager number. Sightings of sea turtles (assumed healthy turtles seen in the water) are also useful to biologists and can be reported by phone or email (252-728-1528, matt.godfrey@ncwildlife.org).

(Source: seaturtle.org)

Topsail Rentals Near Sea Turtle Releases

If you’re looking to be close and conveniently located to all of the Topsail sea turtle release action and excitement, you can choose a Topsail beach vacation rental right near the Roland Avenue beach access in Surf City, where most of the sea turtle releases happen.

Access Realty has some wonderful properties in this area that are perfect for sea turtle spotting. Let us know if we can help you find the right Topsail rental for you!

  • Wave To Cool: “Wave To Cool,” a 4 BR, 2 BA oceanfront getaway, offers a perfect location for families looking to catch some waves, sun rays, and lounge in the sand for days!
  • Surf Monkeys: “Surf Monkeys” is a towering 5 BR, 5 1/2 BA house located in Surf City, just a few blocks from shopping, restaurants and the fishing pier.
  • Parrotise: This oceanfront duplex features 4 BR, 3 BA and inviting coastal décor. You can enjoy the “Parrotise” in this prime location where you’re within walking distance to a myriad of local restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, grocery stores, and retail stores.
  • C-Breeze: “C-Breeze” offers 4 BR, 3 1/2 BA centrally located on North Shore Drive in Surf City and is a true piece of oceanfront luxury within walking distance to entertainment, pier fishing, dining and shopping.
  • C-Scape: Enjoy a relaxing, fun beach getaway at this oceanfront, 6-bedroom home located just 4 blocks from the Surf City pier!

We hope that this post has helped you get to know our Topsail Island sea turtles a little bit better. Have you had any Topsail sea turtle encounters? We’d love to hear about it! Our comment section is always open.