Virginia refuge supports nesting sea turtles
At midnight, a 35-year-old female loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) crawls out of the ocean and onto the beach. Right, left…right, left, she moves her rear legs to scoop a flaskshaped hole, and lays her very first nest of just over 100 eggs at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach.
Virginia is at the northern range of sea turtle nesting habitat. Since a sea turtle nest is an unusual find for Back Bay, biologists take the opportunity to meticulously record data from each one. Just a few examples of their data include the length and width of the female’s crawl prints, dimensions of the body pit she created while laying the eggs, and the distance between the nest and the dunes. This, in part, provides information on the age and type of sea turtle that laid the nest. Refuge biologists share their data with partners across the southeastern coast.
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Egg shell genetics data from these nests as well as other loggerhead nests along the coast is being analyzed by Dr. Campbell Nairn and Brian Shamblin of the University of Georgia. Their initial results imply that nesting loggerhead females may…Read the rest of the story!