Sunset Beach Turtle Watch
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Sunset Beach Turtle Release - April 2023
May 1, 2024 is the start of the Sunset Beach sea turtle nesting season!
The Sunset Beach Turtle Watch Program (SSBTWP) is a private, nonprofit program that solicits volunteers to help monitor turtle nesting at Sunset Beach, North Carolina.
Members of the SSBTWP hold permits from the Non-Game and Endangered Wildlife Section of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor nest sites, strandings, and hatchings.
Volunteers record nesting sites, move nests that may be threatened, record turtle hatches, and help hatchlings reach the ocean safely.
Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common visitors to North Carolina beaches. Although their population is more stable than that of other sea turtles, the loggerhead is still a "Threatened" species. This status grants protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Sea Turtles 101 Video (NatG) - Sea turtles have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. Find out about the ancient mariners' oldest known ancestor, how certain adaptations may have helped the reptiles survive, and the conservation efforts being made to save these creatures.


  1. Avoid disturbing a turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean.
  2. DO NOT crowd or attempt to ride a turtle.
  3. DO NOT shine lights or take flash photos of the turtle.
  4. Stay off the turtle tracks.
  5. Sit quietly in the dark, at a distance, to watch her.
  6. It is against the law to disturb her and/or her nest in any way.
  1. Stay clear of turtle nests.
  2. Avoid walking or riding vehicles near the nest.
  3. Stay off the turtle tracks.
  4. DO NOT disturb markers or screens that may be protecting the nests.
  5. Markers usually consist of wooden stakes outlined with bright tape or ribbon.
  2. Lights disturb nesting turtles and hatchlings.
  3. Please TURN OFF your outdoor lights and shield indoor lights from shining on the beach at night.
  4. We ask the cooperation of all beach front house renters, owners, businesses, and hotels to turn off beach lights during nesting and hatching season from May to late October.
  5. Allow hatchlings to make their way safely to the ocean.
  6. DO NOT touch the hatchlings.
  7. Keeping hatchlings is illegal.
  1. DO NOT LITTER! There are plenty of trash cans available on the beach.
  2. Pick up and place ALL trash in barrels.
  3. Fill in large sand castles, trenches, and holes before leaving the beach.
  4. DO NOT leave your canopy, umbrella, or chairs on the beach overnight.
  5. These all present dangers and can cause death to turtles and their hatchlings.
  6. Avoid using flashlights, fireworks, or flash photography while on the beach at night.
  7. It is against Federal and State Laws to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or nests.
  8. If you are a SMOKER, to avoid cigarette littering on our beach, please take a portable butt tin or use the designated areas.
  9. Don't forget a butt bin can be as simple as an empty film canister or breath mint container!


**CALL or TEXT: Sunset Beach Turtle Watch - (910) 209-1079 or Sunset Beach Police Department - (910) 579-6297**

If you see any sea turtle activity on Sunset Beach day or night, (turtle tracks, nesting turtles, hatchlings, hooked turtles, deceased turtles,  people disturbing the nests, etc...) please contact us immediately!  We are the only permitted program from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to care for, protect and transport sea turtles on our beach!  If you see a nesting turtle, please stand back a minimum of 25 feet, do not shine lights on her, do not use flash photography, stay quiet, and hopefully, you will witness her lay a nest!  Please contact us so we can come out and mark the nest and complete some data and research for the state to help protect them. Thank you for your assistance!

**This conservation work for protected sea turtles on Sunset Beach is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (ES Permit 21ST04). **

Harassment of sea turtles, an endangered or threatened species, or their nests, is a violation of State and Federal laws, punishable by a fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment.

Click HERE to view the Sunset Beach Strand Ordinances (Chapter 95). (PDF Format)


Home About Us Programs Events Donations Turtle Facts Pictures Contact Us
Report turtle tracks, nest hatchings, sea turtle activity, injuries or strandings to:
CALL or TEXT: Sunset Beach Turtle Watch - 910-209-1079 or Sunset Beach Police Department - 910-579-6297
| P. O. Box 7745 Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469 | | (c) 2021 Sunset Beach Turtle Watch