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ONLY ON 3: Some sea turtle nests destroyed, others hatched during Irene

TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) — When you think of Topsail Island, you just might think of sea turtles. While humans on the island continue to clean up in the wake of Hurricane Irene, there’s concern about the turtles that have been waiting to hatch on the island.

Residents and tourists were not the only ones affected by Hurricane Irene’s strong winds and surging seas. Some of the area’s most treasured residents were tossed and turned as the storm ripped through the area.

“In the places where the surge went through the dunes, where it breached the dunes, those nests did wash through,” said Terry Meyer from the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. “So we did lost about 10 nests.”

Meyer says before the hurricane, there were about 60 unhatched nests still on the beach. She says the nests that are higher on the dunes fared better than ones closer to the ocean.

“The turtles that were able to climb to the top of the dunes and deposit their nests, those nests are in good shape,” Meyer said. “They didn’t take on any water, and they are just going to incubate normally for the rest of the season.”

The nests exposed to high levels of sea water for long periods of time may also have been destroyed, but Meyer says it’s a waiting game to see what happens next.

Some hatchlings were born during Irene. They made their way to the sea with the help of some concerned citizens who called the hospital just in time.

The Sea Turtle Hospital says that all the turtles that they have in captivity at the hospital were safe and sound throughout the storm.

The hospital says it about 99 hatchlings emerged from a nest that hatched during the storm friday and were found on a road on the island. They were released into the ocean Saturday evening after the hurricane moved north.

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