August 8, 2008
Beach Areas Reopen As Nesting Allows
By CATHERINE KOZAK
By Catherine KozakThe Virginian-Pilot
While summer's steamy weather has encouraged a record number of sea turtle eggs to hatch in Cape Hatteras National Seashore this year, the bird nesting season is winding down.
Beach areas that had been completely or partially closed to protect shorebirds are starting to reopen to off-road vehicles and pedestrians.
On Wednesday, just as South Point, a popular Ocracoke Island beach for fishing, was about to be reopened, another least tern chick and adults were spotted about 1.5 miles south of Ramp 72, according to the National Park Service.
Park staff reclosed a part of the beach, but 1.1 miles of ocean shoreline access - in addition to the 0.4 mile that was previously open - has been reopened south of the ramp to ORVs and pedestrian use.
In Buxton, one mile of ocean shoreline by Ramp 45 was also reopened on Wednesday. Access to much of Cape Point and Hatteras Inlet had recently been restored.
Meanwhile, sea turtles are having a banner year in the seashore. As of Thursday, biologists have counted 102 turtle nests, said Park Service spokeswoman Cyndy Holda .
The previous record was 99 in 2002.
Most turtle hatching will happen in August and September, she said, although nests have been seen in late October. But resource protection areas, she said, will not be as dramatic as the bird closures.
"They're smaller closures," Holda said, "and a lot of times we're able to work around the back side of them for access for pedestrians and ORVs."
Catherine Kozak, (252) 441-1711,
Just as South Point, a popular Ocracoke Island beach for fishing, was about to be reopened, another least tern chick and adults were spotted about 1.5 miles south of Ramp 72, according to the National Park Service.
Originally published by BY CATHERINE KOZAK.
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