Predicting When Turtles Will Hatch Could Help Outer Banks Economy

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When a turtle nest is found, park rangers excavate the nest, inventory the eggs and mark out the nests with a 30-foot square enclosure. (National Park Service)

Every year on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, female sea turtles return to the beaches where they were born to lay the next generation. The turtle digs a hole in the sand with her back flippers, lays her eggs, covers the nest and heads back into the ocean.

This summer, researchers report finding a healthy number of sea turtle nests — a good thing, since they are a “threatened” species.

Park rangers are using electronic sensors to monitor the sea turtle nests. They hope their measurements will allow them to predict exactly when these turtle eggs will hatch — something that would be of great benefit to the local community.

To understand why that is, IEEE Spectrum sent David Schneider to explore.


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