Nesting Beach Protection
Beaches where sea turtles nest are a global priority for sea turtle conservation and protection. Our partners and programs around the world ensure nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings are safe from predators, poachers, rising sea levels and other threats.
There are numerous threats that impact beaches where endangered sea turtles build nests, and where hatchlings emerge and race to the sea. These threats include uncontrolled coastal development, vehicle traffic on beaches, artificial lighting on beaches, poaching of eggs for consumption, rising sea levels, and plastic and other marine debris. Since our earliest days, Turtle Island Restoration Network has worked with community volunteers and partner organizations to protect nesting females, eggs, and baby sea turtles on beaches in places like Nicaragua, Texas, Costa Rica, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Female sea turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay eggs of their own. Some species migrate tens of thousands of miles across the ocean to reach their nesting beach. They swim through the crashing surf and crawl up the beach searching for a nesting spot above the high water mark. Using her back flippers, the reptile digs a nest in the sand. Digging the nest and laying her eggs usually takes from one to three hours, after which the mother turtle slowly drags herself back to the ocean. Sea turtles deposit an average of about 100 eggs in each nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the nesting season. Some females nest every year until the age of 80, and will return to the same nest even if they have not been there for 30 years! Although the survival rate for their babies, called hatchlings, is dismal—only one in 1,000 will survive to adulthood—there are aspects to the reproduction cycle of this ancient species that is still largely unknown yet awe-inspiring, and something we want to ensure future generations get to experience in their lifetimes.
The sea turtle lays up to 100 eggs, which incubate in the warm sand for about 60 days. The temperature of the sand determines the genders of baby sea turtles, with cooler sand producing more males and warmer sand producing more females. Warming trends due to climate change may cause a higher ratio of female sea turtles, potentially affecting genetic diversity. When the tiny turtles are ready to hatch out, they do so in unison. Once hatched, the turtles find their way to the ocean via the downward slope of the beach and the reflections of the moon and stars on the water. Hatching and moving to the sea all at the same time help the little critters overwhelm waiting predators, which include sea birds, foxes, raccoons, and wild dogs. Those that make it through the gauntlet swim to offshore sargassum floats where they will spend their early years mostly hiding and growing, a period known as “the lost years.”
Adopt a Nest
of Sea Turtles
Help protect endangered nesting sea turtles and their eggs by adopting a nest of sea turtle hatchlings for yourself or your loved ones. Your contribution will ensure nesting beaches and baby sea turtles are safe from predators, poachers, rising sea levels and other threats.