Press Release
Sea turtle nesting record is broken (again) at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

For the third time in five years, a sea turtle nesting record at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) has been broken.

In 2015, a nesting record of 289 nests was set, followed by a new record in 2016 when 325 sea turtle nests were found on Seashore beaches. Now, with more than a month to go before the nesting season typically winds down, the record has again been broken with the discovery of the Seashore’s 326th nest yesterday.

Sea turtle nest numbers (as of July 16 at 12 p.m.):

Big Mama green sea turtle digs her nest.
Big Mama green sea turtle digs her nest.
“We are encouraged by the increasing numbers of sea turtles using Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches to nest,” stated Tracy Ziegler, Chief of Resource Management and Science, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “According to our estimates, almost 11,000 sea turtle eggs have been deposited in beaches on Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke islands.”

Be aware of sea turtle nesting activity, or hatchlings, while visiting the Seashore. If you see turtle tracks, nesting activity, or hatchlings, please notify park biologists by calling the stranding hotline at 252-216-6892.

The majority of current sea turtle nests aren’t expected to impact recreational access along the Seashore. For updated beach access information, go to:

Visit for more information and to track nesting activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and around the world.

Meanwhile at Cape Lookout National Seashore.... (which includes Portmouth Island, south of Ocracoke):

Record Sea Turtle Nesting 

Annually, sea turtles make a quick trip to the beaches of Cape Lookout National Seashore to nest.  The number of recorded sea turtle nests within the park this year has topped previous records.  As of July 15, Cape Lookout resource managers have recorded 404 established nests, with additional nests still likely through September.  The previous record was 352, back in 2016.  

Superintendent Jeff West says, “As a result of this incredible number of nests, we will have to temporarily close more of the beach ORV routes than we have in the past. While the closures only last about fifteen days, they will vary and change based on the incubation periods of the nests. We will put in temporary bypass routes when we can, but access to ocean side beaches will be more restricted than normal for the next two months.” Currently, there are 26.8 out of 45 miles of beach closed, leaving 19.2 miles of beach, and 40 miles of backroad remaining open to off-road vehicle traffic. 

Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common sea turtles that appear at the Seashore. One female typically will lay three to six nests during the May to September nesting season.  Nests that were laid in May are beginning to hatch now and later nests will continue to hatch into November.  Most nesting and hatching occurs under the cover of darkness at night. Each nest is unique and takes 50 to 75 days of incubation to hatch, though the average is 60 days. Protection measures are put into place to prevent deep tire ruts and disorientation of hatchlings during the expected hatching window. 

For current information on the beach closures at Cape Lookout National Seashore, go to: