|A sea turtle nest on North Topsail Beach|
Where there are eggs, the Project volunteers will mark off the area with stakes, plastic tape, and wire grating to protect the site from predators and from curious vacationers. They label the nest with a sign that indicates the site is protected by law and a number that tells them when the eggs will likely hatch.
|Volunteers build a ramp with their|
forearms to keep the turtles on point.
For three nights, volunteers and curious vacationers will sit the nest by waiting alongside the ramp while checking it for a boil, the movement of sand that indicates there is activity in the nest, that the little turtles are emerging from their shells and making their way to the surface and then to the sea.
|Topsail Turtle Project volunteers and others|
escort the turtles to the water.
Once the turtles make it into the ocean, they swim to the sargassum, and there they stay to rest and enjoy safety from larger, hungry sea creatures. Time will pass and they will grow until they weigh hundreds of pounds--if they survive the myriad dangers of the sea. One day, the females will return to Topsail. This is an important part of the magic and mystery of this island: the turtles come home to lay their eggs and begin the cycle anew. When they are born and come down the beach, they imprint the island, locking it into memory older than time and anchoring them to a place.
|Volunteers and curious beach combers watch as newly |
hatched sea turtles make their way to the ocean.
If you have the good fortune to witness a hatching, understand that you have become part of something very beautiful, timeless, and elegant in its rhythm.