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Where to See Sea Turtles On Topsail Island

During certain parts of the year, Topsail Island hosts mother sea turtles as they make their nests and hatch their babies. It`s a beloved wildlife tradition, in which the locals take great care to ensure that the beaches are hospitable for the sea turtles. As a visitor, you are welcome to volunteer, learn more about the sea turtles, and possibly see them up close. It truly is a special experience and will allow you to learn more about the natural history and wildlife of the island. 

Whether you already know and love sea turtles or you`re ready to learn more about these cute aquatic creatures, there are many resources on the island for you. We`ll go over some of these resources, plus information about the nesting and hatching season. If you`ve booked one of the vacation rentals near the beach, you may not be aware of some of the rules and guidelines surrounding sea turtles. We`ll go over some of the ways you can be a respectful visitor at the beach as well.

Nesting and Hatching Season

In North Carolina, during the months of mid-May through August, sea turtles flock to Topsail Island`s long coastline. The Loggerhead sea turtles come to the beach to make nests and lay their eggs. Typically a sea turtle will have three to five nests per nesting season. The average amount of eggs the sea turtle will lay in a single nest is about one hundred and twenty. 

There is an incubation period where the eggs will sit in the nests for about sixty days. After that time, the baby sea turtles will hatch. Once all of the eggs have hatched, the turtles swiftly make their way to the water. The survival rate for these young sea turtles is not high. They must avoid land and water predators to make it into adulthood. 

Where Is the Best Place on the Island to See Sea Turtles?

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center works to care for injured sea turtles. If you are looking for things to do on Topsail Island and want to learn more about sea turtles and see some of them up close, the center offers tours. They also have a gift shop, so if you want a cool souvenir from your time on the island and you also want to support the center, then grab an item or two. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer at the center if you want to do more to help out the local wildlife. Many people volunteer to watch turtles. Each morning volunteers comb the beaches looking for turtle tracks. Typically the tracks of the mother turtles will lead to their nests. Volunteers will then start to nest when it gets near the hatching time. 

How Can You Be a Respectful Visitor to Wildlife While on the Island?

When you haven`t been around the island for the sea turtle nesting season, you probably aren`t aware of some of the rules and guidelines. These rules are in place to protect sea turtles and their natural habitats. If you`re new to the area but are searching for vacation rentals near the coast, then you`ll want to pay attention to these rules and guidelines during the nesting season so you can be respectful of the natural wildlife. 

  • When you visit the beach, you`ll need to be aware of any turtle nests in your vicinity. If you`re located in North Topsail Beach, you`ll need to set up your beach equipment at least twenty feet away from any nests.

  • The state of North Carolina does not allow any beach nourishment work during the nesting season (May through November).

  • If you or your kids decide to dig holes during your fun beach day, you`ll need to fill these in before you leave for the day. Mother turtles come during the night to find a nesting place, and they can easily fall into holes and get stuck. You also need to remove all beach equipment before you leave for the day. 

  • Remove all trash and help keep the beaches clean. Even litter on the streets or in the park can be blown onto beaches or into the waterways. So it`s important to never litter while on the island and pick up any garbage that you see. 

  • You should also be cautious not to use artificial light when it gets dark. So if you choose one of the vacation rentals along the beach, be sure not to leave the porch light on that faces the water. Baby turtles can become confused when the houses have their porch lights on and venture towards the houses instead of the water. They naturally gravitate to the light, as the moon and stars reflect on the water. But artificial lights will confuse them and draw them away from the water. It`s also a good idea to close the drapes at night, so they won`t be attracted to the light inside.

  • If you`re walking along the beach at night, you`ll want to avoid flashlights and cellphones and opt for a red light source instead. 

  • You may never touch a nest or injured hatchling under any circumstances. If you see an injured hatchling, you should report it to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. 

Local Organizations That You Can Support

Are you looking for things to do on Topsail Island that support sea turtles? Many locals and businesses donate their time and money to support sea turtles. While you`re a visitor on the island, you can support these local organizations in their conservation efforts.

If you`re looking for a brewery that supports local turtle conservation organizations and community events, then head over to the Salty Turtle Beer Company. They`ve put forth an effort to support the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and other organizations. So when you kick back at the brewery with a few beers, you`re actually supporting the local sea turtles since some of the sale proceeds are given to the center. 

Another organization that provides resources on sea turtles is the NC Sea Turtle Project. This organization monitors the sea turtle population and provides a lot of information and opportunities to donate. 

If you`re looking for things to do on Topsail Island, visiting and volunteering at the rehabilitation center is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community and understand the wildlife a bit more. If you decide to book vacation rentals during the nesting season, there are a few rules to be a respectful visitor. But these rules are simple and easy to follow while you`re here on the island. If you are interested in watching sea turtles, you might want to book one of the vacation rentals on the island that have a good view of the beach. In the early morning, you might like to take a walk along the beach to check for any turtle tracks. Wherever you are located on the island, there are many resources for you to learn and enjoy the sea turtles that make Topsail Island home during the spring and summer months. 


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