Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle Hatchling on Pea Island by Jackie Orsulak

Pea Island's beaches are in the most northern portions of the nesting range for a number of sea turtles.  The number is nests is not large, but could be very significant.  There is much about sea turtle life cycles that is unknown.  Most of the nests occurring on Pea Island are loggerhead sea turtles, with an occasional green, and a rare leatherback.  Two of our most popular volunteer activities are Turtle Patrol and Turtle Watch.  Turtle Patrol volunteers ride the beach early in the morning to locate nests.  Turtle Watch volunteers "sit" with nests that are due to hatch to keep predators away from baby turtles as they make their way to the ocean.

View most recent Sea Turtle Nesting Season Data.

Five species of sea turtle can be found along the shores of Pea Island: Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, and Hawksbill.  The most common is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which nest on the beaches of Pea Island.  These turtles face a multitude of predators when they hatch on the beach at night and make their way to the ocean, and so are protected in Sea Turtle Watch and Patrol programs on the refuge.  After reaching the water, they traverse the Gulf Stream current around the Atlantic Ocean, stopping to feed and grow.  When they are mature, they return to the beaches they hatched from to nest.  These, and other species of sea turtle, can sometimes be seen swimming along the shores of Pea Island, especially during summer months.