Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Rare Leatherback Turtle Nests On Holden Beach
A midnight walk on Brunswick County's Holden Beach yielded a rare find for four visiting college students.
The students from Chicago were walking along the shoreline at 12:20 a.m. on June 1 when they spotted a 6-foot-long, 850 pound nesting leatherback turtle.
"We thought it was some kind of sand castle", said Ariel Parks.
"All of a sudden, its head raised up", adds friend Jesse Foster.
Having spotted a sign earlier in the day about the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol, the students ran to find the phone number and called the turtle patrol on a cell phone. Volunteers showed up at 1 a.m. to find the turtle still in front of the "Mullet Over" beach house.
The turtle patrol returned after daybreak to find and relocate the nest to a safer area. Volunteers found 106 eggs, 70 of which were fertile.
Officials believe this is the first leatherback nest ever located on Holden Beach (the area usually sees loggerhead turtles). The leatherback is the largest sea turtle in the world, and is currently on the critically endangered species list. Full-grown leatherbacks can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.