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Creature Feature: Maryland’s first sea turtles

A small (but incredible) discovery 

At the end of September, a dole of about 100 baby loggerhead turtles emerged from their eggs and began their journey from the sand to the sea. One Facebook user, Keegan Burke, took some incredibly cute photos and videos of the tiny hatchlings in pursuit. 

The Assateague Island National Seashore also got a short video of a turtle’s slow crawl to the waves, on the Maryland portion of Assateague’s Over Sand Vehicle zone where the loggerheads hatched. 

Why is this so cool? 

As far as the Park Service knows, this is the first time a dole of sea turtles has nested successfully on Assateague Island. 

This is also the first known nest of sea turtles to thrive in Maryland ever. It’s rare for loggerhead sea turtles to even attempt to nest north of Virginia, and while turtles have made attempts to nest on Assateague’s beach, this is the first group of hatchlings to make it to the water. 

A little about loggerheads

Loggerhead turtles, named for their huge heads, are most commonly found in Florida. According to the World Conservation Union, they’re an endangered species. 

Loggerheads have been on the threatened species list since 1978, thanks to shrimp trawling, pollution and development over nesting areas. That could be why they’ve recently turned to Assateague for nesting, and we might see more of them in the future, too: mature females will often return to the place where they hatched to lay their own eggs. 

Fun fact: Loggerhead hatchlings are about 2 inches long and weigh just .04 lbs. Because they’re so small, they’re often prey to crabs, large reptiles and birds like vultures and seagulls, who could potentially devastate an entire nest. For this reason alone, sea turtles would be smart to nest far, far away from Ocean City. 

Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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