A sea turtle has laid a nest on a Mississippi beach for the first time since 2018.
Harrison County Sand Beach crews found a sea turtle track just east of Pass Christian Harbor. They contacted The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, and staff went to check out the track. They confirmed the nest location and marked the area off with stakes and flagging tape.
“The area was clearly marked to protect the nest from harm by any beach maintenance equipment while the eggs are incubating. We kindly request that the public refrain from disturbing the nest,” the IMMS said in a Facebook post.
Sea Turtles In Mississippi
The last time a sea turtle laid a nest on the Mississippi mainland was 4 years ago.
“This is very good news since the various natural and anthropogenic (BP oil spill, Bonnet Carre Spillway) disasters that cause significant damage to the ecology and natural habitat of dolphins and sea turtles. It appears that IMMS’ efforts in saving and rehabilitating sea turtles may be paying off in the restoration of the species. The reproduction and nesting is a good sign for the recovery,” says Samia Ahmad, Vice President and CFO for IMMS.
There have been unofficial reports of nests on uninhabited barrier islands. Once the eggs hatch, crews can determine what species of turtle laid this nest.
Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, and green sea turtles are found in Mississippi waters. This area in the northern Gulf is an important habitat for juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which are the most critically endangered sea turtles in the world.
IMMS holds a permit with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey the beaches and mark and monitor any nesting activities in the state.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season
Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through October 31. The Gulf of Mexico is home to five of the seven sea turtle species: green, leatherback, hawksbill, loggerhead, and Kemp’s ridley turtles.
Sea turtles use the beaches to host their nests during this time. The creatures emerge from the waters in the middle of the night, dig a hole in the dry sand, lay their eggs, cover the hole, and then return to the water. The eggs typically incubate 50 to 60 days before hatching.
Only about 1 in 10,000 sea turtle eggs reach adulthood. Turtles lay between 60 to 100 eggs in a nest and have multiple nests during the season.
About The Institute For Marine Mammal Studies
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is a non-profit established in 1984 for public education, conservation, and research on marine mammals in the wild and under human care. It’s located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Since 2010, it has responded to hundreds of live and dead sea turtle strandings. It rehabilitates turtles and when they are healthy enough, they release them back into the wild. Just before release, it tags the turtles so they can monitor them. Satellite tracking devices allow the IMMS to track their movements and migrations.
To learn more about how you can protect sea turtles, check out: