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Threatened loggerhead sea turtle lays eggs on Fenwick Island

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A rare species of sea turtle laid its eggs on a public beach on Fenwick Island last week.

The loggerhead sea turtle has been listed as a federally threatened species in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean since 1978.

And it’s the only sea turtle to lay eggs in Delaware in the past seven years. The last one was a green turtle.

But the nest was laid below the tide line and in an area of the beach scheduled for sand replenishment.

DNREC’s Fish and Wildlife Administrator Rob Hossler says his agency coordinated with the MERR Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to move the eggs.

“They kind of like the native approach—just let nature do its thing—but, in this case, since we knew it was going to be doomed with the dredging and possibly the high tides, they supported moving it,” said Hossler. “This is an opportunity for Delaware to help increase the population of this threatened species.”

All 78 eggs have been moved to a safer location in Fenwick Island State Park and covered with an exclosure to keep out scavengers.

Hossler says his agency will send enforcement to the beach the eve of their hatch to oversee the baby turtle’s journey into the ocean.

“Our hope is this going to be kind of a low-key situation where they’re going to hatch, they’re going to dig themselves out of the hole and then run their way down into the beach and hopefully survive in our Delaware ocean and probably migrate south towards Florida and hopefully add to the population,” he said.

Hossler adds they could hatch in anywhere from 45 to 72 days, and DNREC is trying to approximate the hatch date with sand temperature measurements.

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