The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of short-distance nest relocation on nest parameters and embryonic development of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). The nesting biology of the loggerhead sea turtle was studied on Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge in 2005 and 2006 during the nesting season. Research nests were randomly assigned 1 of 2 treatments (in situ or relocated). In situ nests (n = 35) were left in the original location, while relocated nests (n = 34) were moved above the spring high-tide line and into areas that were considered to have favorable nesting conditions. Data-loggers were placed in the center of nests to record the temperature during incubation. Incubation durations, nest temperatures, hatch success, and hatchling straight carapace lengths were compared for all research nests. The observed nests showed similar nest parameters and embryonic development regardless of nest treatment. Differences in nest parameters and embryonic development seemed to be driven by abiotic conditions of the nesting site. This study shows that nest relocation can be used to alleviate nests of extreme abiotic conditions to increase hatch success, without altering embryonic development.
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Vol. 9 • No. 1