Volunteers walk at sunrise during nesting season looking for the large turtle tracks leading from the ocean to the dunes and back. When tracks are found, volunteers use clues to determine the nest area. Pool cues are used to probe the sand and locate the egg chamber. An average nest of 120 ping pong size eggs may need to be moved if it is laid in an unsafe place such as below the spring tide line or in a high foot traffic area. Volunteers cover the nests with a plastic mesh to protect it from predators and erect a sign with the nesting date.
At about 50 days of incubation, volunteers begin to look for a depression in the nest indicating hatching activity beneath. When a nest hatches usually at about 55-60 days, hatchlings make a mad dash to the ocean following the fluorescence of the waves as long as they are not lead astray by onshore lighting. Three days later, volunteers conduct a nest inventory near sunset. A notice is posted at the kiosk at DeBordieu’s main pool at the Beach Club giving the time and location. At the inventory, a volunteer tells visitors about the procedure and printed information is handed out. The nest contents are dug out and data is recorded. Sometimes live hatchlings are found in the nest that weren’t able to emerge on their own. Volunteers put the hatchlings on the beach and let them crawl to the ocean and ‘imprint’. At maturity, 25-30 years, female loggerheads will generally return to the beach of their birth to nest. However, recent DNA studies show some turtles will nest many miles from where they hatched.