Loggerhead Turtle nests discovered on Mississippi's mainland - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Loggerhead Turtle nests discovered on Mississippi's mainland

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For the first time in more than 20 years, Loggerhead Turtle nests have been discovered on the mainland beaches of Mississippi. For the first time in more than 20 years, Loggerhead Turtle nests have been discovered on the mainland beaches of Mississippi.
The nests are now marked with warning signs and caution tape. It is a federal offense to disturb the nests. The nests are now marked with warning signs and caution tape. It is a federal offense to disturb the nests.
Large tracks in the sand show where the turtle came ashore, laid its eggs, then returned to the water. Large tracks in the sand show where the turtle came ashore, laid its eggs, then returned to the water.
PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) -

For the first time in more than 20 years, Loggerhead Turtle nests have been discovered on the mainland beaches of Mississippi.

The most recent Loggerhead Turtle nest was discovered on the beach in Pass Christian. It's now cordoned off and posted with warning signs, since it's a federal offense to disturb the nest.

You can clearly see the tracks when the mother turtle trudged ashore, laid her eggs and then returned to the water.

"The majority of nesting in Mississippi waters occurs on the barrier islands. Hopefully this is a new phenomena that we'll be dealing with increasing nesting on the mainland," said Dr. Andy Coleman with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.

It will take 50 to 60 days for the eggs to incubate. The hatchlings will then head for the water, which will reflect the light of the moon.

But there are concerns about artificial lights.

"One of the threats that sea turtle hatchlings face is artificial lighting. And so that's one thing we'll have to keep an eye on the mainland is the effects of coastal development," said Dr. Coleman.

The first turtle nest was discovered along the beach between Ocean Springs and Gautier a few weeks ago.

The loggerhead nest in Jackson County was discovered by Daniel Richards.  He was camping on a beach in this area when the loggerhead turtle came ashore to lay her eggs.

Experts determined that nest was in a hazardous spot and too close to the water. So the 109 eggs inside that nest were carefully removed and relocated to a safer spot.

The big question facing researchers now is why? Why after a 20 year absence are logger heads returning?

"One I think we have seen the habitat being degraded. So these animals may be looking for alternate sites. Or, there's an abundance of these animals and they're now looking for nesting space. Or a combination of both. But it is a very important and significant phenomena that is happening," said IMMS executive director, Dr. Moby Solangi.

If you come across what looks like a turtle nest, please don't disturb it.  Just report it by calling this toll-free hotline number: (888) 767-3657.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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