Leatherback Sea Turtles Born in Holden Beach

Last week, 53 newly-hatched leatherback turtles made their way from their nest on Holden Beach to the sea.

The nest is Holden Beach, NC’s first known leatherback turtle nest. Loggerhead turtles often nest on Brunswick County’s beaches, but Leatherback turtle nests are much less common.

Volunteers with Holden Beach Turtle Watch dug a trench from the nest to the ocean and protected the Leatherback hatchlings from the crowd that had gathered to observe. Their work was illuminated by red lights, so as not to disorient the baby turtles.

Volunteers named the first turtle hatched, Shannon. When she made her way to the end of the trench, onlookers sang “Happy Birthday” and cheered.

Holden Beach Turtle Watch volunteers estimate the leatherback turtle that made the nest probably weighed about 900 pounds and was more than six feet long. Leatherback turtles are the largest of all living sea turtles. The mother sea turtle probably laid the eggs 60 to 70 days before they hatched. After laying the eggs, she covered her nest with sand to disguise it from predators, and returned to the sea.

Stacey Manning captured images of the event for The Brunswick Beacon. To see her photos, please visit The Brunswick Beacon.