First sea turtle nest discovered on Mississippi beach since 2018

Pass Christian, Mississippi - The first sea turtle nest has been found on the Mississippi mainland in four years – a good sign for the ocean ecosystem!

The turtle nesting site is now marked off with stakes and tape. If all goes well, baby turtles may hatch and make their way to the water in around 50-60 days.
The turtle nesting site is now marked off with stakes and tape. If all goes well, baby turtles may hatch and make their way to the water in around 50-60 days.  © screenshot/ Facebook/ The Institute for Marien Mammal Studies

Harrison County Sand Beach crew was cleaning up the beach when they spotted what appeared to be turtle tracks east of Pass Christian Harbor, according to the Associated Press.

The beach crew immediately protected the area and called the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport. IMMS staff followed the turtle tracks and confirmed there was a nest.

IMMS said they can't tell what kind of turtle made the nest until the eggs hatch. That should happen in the next 50-60 days, if all goes well.

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Moby Solangi, president of the IMMS, said the nest likely belongs to the protected loggerhead sea turtle or the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

Turtles lay somewhere between six to 100 eggs per nest and make more than one nest a season.

Only about one in 10,000 sea turtle eggs reach adulthood, said Solangi.

Sea turtle nest on Mississippi mainland is a good sign

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies asks the public to call them if they see any turtle tracks or find a nest.
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies asks the public to call them if they see any turtle tracks or find a nest.  © 123rf/ vatikaki

According to the SunHerald, the last known sea turtle nest found in Mississippi was discovered in Gulfport in 2018.

There have been unofficial reports of nests on the uninhabited barrier islands, but this is the first official find on the mainland in four years.

Solangi, said that the Mississippi Sound and Gulf of Mexico are important sea turtle habitats, but the 2010 oil spill and the 2019 opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway has hurt the turtle population.

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"After all the environmental disasters we’ve had, this is a good sign. When (turtle populations) have gone down, it means the ecosystem that supports them is having difficulty. When animals start breeding, it means things have started to get better," Solangi explained.

IMMS asks that the public not disturb the nest and encourages people to call IMMS’ rescue and rehabilitation hotline at 1(888) SOS-DOLPHIN if they find tracks or a nest.

Cover photo: screenshot/ Facebook/ The Institute for Marien Mammal Studies

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