Nearly 200 fragile sea turtle eggs are resting comfortably after a rescue mission on the beach at Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park.
When a Green sea turtle made her way to the beach Thursday morning, she found a snug spot for her 194 eggs, but area residents decided to move the nest beyond the reach of the tide to boost the chances for survival.
The eggs are perfectly round and about the size of a golf ball. The shells are a nearly translucent white with a peach color showing through, according to Suzanne Thurman, director of the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute in Lewes, Del.
She led the relocation effort.
“They’re somewhat pliable, so we had to be careful because just barely touching them would cause a fingertip to almost dimple the surface of the egg,” she said.
“They had to be handled just so, of course, but they also had to be laid back in the replacement nest in a very similar, if not the same, fashion as they were taken out,” said Paul Faircloth, superintendent at Cape Henlopen State Park.
It was a delicate operation.
“We don’t want to do anything to disrupt the membrane or the embryo inside the egg,” Thurman said. “They hatch out of the egg and they crawl up out of the nest. The eggs are all touching each another and they are deposited in a layering manner so they don’t crush one another.”
Rescuers fenced off the new nest to keep out four-footed predators and curious people.
Green sea turtles usually lay their eggs earlier in the season and in warmer climates.
If they survive, hatchlings could emerge within six weeks.
Volunteers are taking turns watching over the new nest.