Posted by Michaela LeMay | 02.13.2024 | Conservation, Turtle Talk

Sea Turtle Eggs

A sea turtle’s egg is not like a chicken egg you get from the store. Where a chicken egg is hard and easily cracked, sea turtle eggs are soft and leathery to handle the drop into the sand. They are coated with mucus when they first come out and will dry out over their incubation period. The average incubation was 56 days in North Carolina last year, but incubation is all dependent on temperature.

Sea turtles do not just lay one egg at a time. They lay a wide range of eggs and the number of eggs laid is called a clutch. The average clutch last year in North Carolina was 114. The soft and leathery shell allows the eggs to be dropped on top of each other without cracking as the female turtle lays them.

The egg on the left is a Loggerhead, the egg on the right is a Green.

The eggs of a sea turtle will differ depending on the species. Loggerhead sea turtles, the main nesters in North Carolina, lay eggs the size of ping-pong balls. Green sea turtles lay slightly larger eggs, about the size of a golf ball. Leatherback sea turtles lay eggs the size of a cue ball and will lay significantly fewer eggs than a Loggerhead or Green sea turtle.

All eggs remain covered under the sand, protected by amazing volunteers throughout the state. After an emergence, following state and federal permitting guidelines, the nests will inventoried by trained professionals. They are looking for eggshells so they can count and determine the success of those eggs. The data collected is invaluable in population studies and overall sea turtle research.