81 sea turtle nests off the coast of Hatteras; from 2021

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There are more sea turtle nests on part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks this season than at the same time last year, officials said Friday, marking World Sea Turtle Day.

An update from Cape Hatteras National Seashore says 81 nests have been laid so far this season, including a Leatherback nest that officials say was the first since 2012. According to the update, there were 70 nests at the same time last year.

Healthy sea turtle populations are important indicators of healthy ocean habitats, the National Park Service said. They help maintain the balance in oceanic food webs by keeping populations of their prey, such as jellyfish and molluscs, in check and improving nutrient cycling.

Loggerheads and greens most commonly nest along the national coast, but Kemp’s ridley, Hawk’s bill and leatherback turtles also occasionally crawl ashore to lay their nests, the update said.

The National Seacoast advises visitors to help protect sea turtle populations by following 4WD and beach fire regulations, staying away from marked nesting areas, and following specific guidelines when visiting the beach. All sea turtle species are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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