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.