Helping out one turtle at a time

Ongoing conservation efforts at Oak Island, North Carolina.

Volunteers and retirees from the Brunswick Nuclear Plant took to the beach on Oak Island in North Carolina again this summer to help safeguard one of our most precious, yet mysterious creatures – Loggerhead sea turtles.

The turtles nest up and down the east coast and many call Oak Island home. That’s important because sea turtles grow up, travel the world and then, after some 30 years, go back to their original birthplace to nest. A mother turtle visits the beaches late at night or early in the morning to find a suitable place for her eggs, leaving about 100 eggs in each nest. Volunteers patrol the beach in the early morning to find and mark the nests for careful monitoring.


The program is coordinated by trained volunteers who take one egg from each nest for DNA testing. As a result of these efforts, we now have data confirming that the turtles nest where they were born and we can even see how the turtles are related to one another. As one volunteer explained, “We can have nests laid by sisters, or even multiple generations – mom and daughter might both be laying nests in the same year on the same island.”

With about 100 nests on Oak Island each year, and each nest averaging around 100 baby turtles, this one island hatches about 10,000 turtles each year. It seems like a lot. But once they leave, they lead a perilous life such that only about one in 1,000 survive to adulthood. That is why, explains nest parent and Duke Energy retiree Lisa Nolin, getting them off to a good start is important. Without the work of the volunteers, we would see more losses to foxes, birds and other predators.

The project is good for our employees, too. It is a good opportunity to deliver on our promise to be good stewards of the environment in a way that includes our families and friends – which makes the experience even better.

Comments (3)

Posted September 21, 2021 by Ellen Morton
Hi Mitzi, Not sure where you are located, but most beach towns have a local organization for sea turtle protection. For Oak Island, N.C., the local group can be contacted at Hope to see you there!
Posted September 20, 2021 by Mitzi Bedenbaugh
I would be very interested in helping next year with your project. Turtles are my favorite animal. I am a survivor and of the turtles that do survive - it takes a lot of perseverance to get to the water and then survive!! I am an RN in semiretirement. Thank you, Mitzi
Posted September 13, 2021 by JOEL TUCHFELD
This is such a uplifting story in today's turbulent world...Thanks

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