posted: February 13, 2021, 5:17 PM

The HBTP participates in a three state DNA study. This study takes one egg from each turtle nest on the beach. This egg shell is sent to the University of Georgia to establish the DNA of the mother turtle. With this DNA we are able identify the mother.
We had 65 nests last year and have the DNA results for 59 of these nests. What we learned about the mother turtles that visited our beach in 2020:
We had 35 different females on our beach. There were 2 females with only one recorded nest in 2020. This means they only laid one nest last year and it was on our beach.
The DNA studies have shown us that mother turtles may lay nests on more than one beach during the year. The maximum number of beaches visited by one turtle last year was 4. This momma went to North Island (south of Pawleys Island, SC), Kure Beach, NC, Fort Fisher Beach, NC, and Holden Beach.
The average number of nests per female turtles was just over two nests…the maximum number of nests laid by the same turtle was 6, two on Holden Beach and four on Caswell Beach. The average time between nests was 13.67 days. This means a mother turtle lays a nest about every 14 days.
The average distance between nests was 36.51 km (22.6 miles), with the minimum distance of 1.02 km (0.6 miles), and the maximum distance 225.90 km (140.4 miles). Holden Beach and Little Cumberland Island, GA were the nest sites for the maximum distance---some of our turtles like to swim.
We have learned from the DNA studies that mother turtles can lay nests over a wide area...not just one beach as once thought.

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