The mission of the Sunset Beach Turtle Watch Program (SSBTWP) is to record nesting sites, move
nests that may be threatened by animals or water, record turtle
hatches, and assist hatchlings as they attempt to reach the ocean.
The turtle watch program is staffed by volunteers that walk the
beach every morning, sit at nests when the hatchlings are ready to
emerge, and conduct informational and educational programs.
The informational programs - named "Turtle Time" - are free
at 7 pm on Sunday evenings beginning in June and running during the nesting months at the Sunset Properties Parking lot - weather permitting. Educational programs are available on request.
Loggerhead sea turtles are some of the most common visitors
to the North Carolina Beaches. Although their population is
more stable than that of other sea turtles, the Loggerhead
is still considered a “threatened” species. This status
grants protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Our busiest time of the year is the end of July through the
end of August. This is when we have hatchling "boils" - a
boil is when all of the hatchlings in a nest come out at the
same time. There are usually over 100 hatchlings in the nest
and it’s an impressive sight when they all emerge at the same time.
The volunteers and visitors will dig a trough to the sea and the
hatchlings will walk to the ocean. Volunteers must make sure that
the hatchlings go toward the ocean - the hatchlings are attracted
to light and are often confused by the porch lights at the oceanfront
homes. The boils are a big event and are viewed by many visitors each year.
Watch this great video of an actual sea turtle boil!
Shrimpers Help Save our Sea Turtles
By the 1980s, there was growing concern about the negative impact of shrimp trawling on endangered species of sea turtles. The number of sea turtles washing up on barrier island beaches of the southeast United States would dramatically increase when shrimp trawling was at its peak. Scientists concluded that sea turtles were being drowned in shrimp trawls. Soon, fishing gear experts were experimenting with ways to free sea turtles from shrimp trawls without losing the catch of valuable shrimp. The "Georgia Jumper, invented by veteran shrimper Sinkey Boone, of Darien, was modified and subject to rigorous testing. Eventually, the simple jellyfish excluder became the Georgia Jumper, one of the most popular of the approved TEDs. Thousands of Georgia Jumpers or derivations thereof are used daily in trawl fisheries around the world.
Click HERE to view a brochure on how the Georgia Jumper works (PDF format).
How to Help Beach Nesting Birds
Click HERE to view a more information regarding how to help our local beach nesting birds (PDF format).