We Love Our Pleasure Island Sea Turtles

Experience a Sea Turtle nest hatching on your Pleasure Island vacation

Pleasure Island isn’t just the perfect vacation spot for families from all across the country; it is also the ideal place for the majestic sea turtle to nest. Soon all along Kure and Carolina Beach Sea Turtles will struggle ashore to continue the cycle of life. For those who get to see a sea turtle or experience the wonder of a nest hatching, it is something you’ll never forget. In 2017 we were lucky here on Pleasure Island to have several nests. Kure Beach saw seven Sea Turtles return to nest and Carolina Beach had 6! We’re hoping for an even better turnout this year. 

Meet the Sea Turtles of Pleasure Island

Here on Kure and Carolina beach, several species of Sea Turtles can be found. However, the most common is the Loggerhead turtle. Kemp’s Ripley, Green (common on the Pleasure Island), Leatherback (largest species), and Hawksbill (very rare) also visit our beaches.  Want to meet the regal Loggerhead? Head over to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, located right here in Kure Beach. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the Loggerhead turtle exhibit.

5 fun facts about Sea Turtles

They’re migratory and can travel thousands of miles back to the beach they were born on to nest. 

They navigate by the moonlight and magnetic fields.

The largest species can weigh 2,000 pounds.

Some Sea Turtles can live to be 100 years old!

Female turtles can lay up to 100 eggs at a time.

The great Sea Turtle adventure. 

As we mentioned above Sea Turtles are migratory. Each year female Sea Turtles return to the spot where they were born to continue the cycle of life by nesting on their home beach. As the Sea Turtle makes here way up the beach, she uses magnetic fields, the slope of the shore, and moonlight to find her way to the perfect nesting spot. Unlike land-based turtles, Sea Turtles have front flippers instead of claws, which makes them excellent swimmers.

Once ashore the female uses her flippers to dig a nest and then lay her eggs, called a clutch. Each turtle can lay up to 100 eggs, which sounds like a lot, but did you know only 1 of 1,000-10,000 eggs survives! Each turtle nests every 2-3 years and can lay four clutches a year. That’s a lot of eggs! But don’t be fooled by a large number of eggs as you will see survival is far from assured.  

About 60 days after being laid, the eggs will hatch. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the baby Sea Turtles. Warm sand results in female Sea Turtles and cold sand results in male turtles. Pleasure Island is part of the northern edge of the Sea Turtle’s nesting grounds. Because of the cooler sand found on Kure and Carolina Beach, our beaches produce a large portion of the male Sea Turtle population in the Atlantic.

Hatchlings slowly make there way out of the nest and head for the ocean. Like their mothers, they use a combination of light, magnetic fields, wave action and the slope of the beach to find their way to the surf. Once in the ocean, the hatchlings will swim for 24-36 hours to reach the Gulf Stream and the nutrient-rich seaweed beds where they’ll spend the next ten years. Few will survive this trying ordeal. Pollution, predators and many other factors make life at sea for a baby Sea Turtle challenging.

What to do if you find a nest. 

If you happen to come across a Sea Turtle nest there are a few things you should do.

1- Keep your distance. Stay at least 30 feet away any disruption in the nesting process can cause the turtle to return to sea prematurely.

2- Immediately call (888) 290-1065  or 911 report the nest.

3- Never use flash photography or flashlights if you find the nest at night.

4- Do NOT share the location of the nest with anyone but the authorities.

How you can help our Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles are tough in a lot of ways. They can travel thousands of miles across oceans and seas. They live for almost a hundred years. Rough water, climate change, fishing nets, pollution, pets, and even lights can cause significant harm to sea turtles. Here are three ways that you can help make sure our Pleasure Island Sea Turtles continue to thrive on on our beaches. During your Kure or Carolina Beach vacation make sure to follow these three steps, and do your part to protect our most beloved visitors.

Please Control Your Pets

Dogs are one of the biggest threats to Sea Turtle nests. Even the best-behaved dog loves to dig in the sand, and a Sea Turtle nest is a tempting target. Make sure during your North Carolina beach vacation that your dog is always on a leash when on the beach.

Turn Off The Porch Lights

Artificial light can cause all sorts of problems for adult and baby sea turtles. One way Sea turtles navigate is by moonlight. Make sure to turn off exterior lights on your beach cottage, even in the early morning or daylight hours. Turtles can easily be confused by such lights. 

Keep Our Beaches Clean 

You might not think leaving a volleyball net, or beach chair on the beach overnight isn’t dangerous to sea turtles, but they are. Any obstruction on the beach can cause a sea turtle to turn around and return to the sea without nesting. Plastic presents the biggest threat to Sea Turtles, especially plastic bags and bottles. Please police the area around your site before leaving for the day.  

Fill In Your Holes

Playing in the sand is one of the simple joys of a day on the beach. However, that big hole you dug to bury your brother is a hazard to Sea Turtles. Fill in any holes before leaving the beach for the day.  

Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project 

The mission of the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project is to ensure the preservation and protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles. The project accomplishes this by working with federal and state agencies. The Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project is comprised of volunteers dedicated to the protection of all sea turtle species. During nesting season (May 1 – August 31) volunteers patrol from the southern end of Kure Beach to the northern end (including Freeman Park) of Carolina Beach. 

If you want to help out, the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project is always looking for volunteers. New volunteer orientation will take place on March 20, 2018, at 6 pm. Orientation is mandatory for all new volunteers. All volunteers must RSVP. Orientation will occur at 555 Haliburton Pkwy, Wilmington, NC 28412