S. Lumina Ave., Wrightsville Beach
The uninterrupted stretch of sand is the main attraction on Wrightsville Beach, a small island off the mainland in a town of the same name. The four-mile-long beach is a haven for surfing, parasailing, swimming, and beachcombing, or just relaxing in the sand.
Johnnie Mercer Fishing Pier is the most recognizable structure on the beach. The original wooden pier was destroyed by Hurricane Fran in 1996 and replaced with a solid concrete pier in 2000.
The Carolina Yacht Club dates back to 1853 and was the first structure on the island. Now, dozens of marinas dot the shoreline and shops along the waterfront rent sailboats, catamarans, canoes, kiteboards, surfboards, and scuba equipment.
Just off the beach, the plethora of shops, restaurants, and clubs have earned Wrightsville Beach the nickname “Atlantic City of the South.”
Saving the Carolinas’s Sea Turtles
Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore along the Atlantic coast from the Carolinas to Florida between May and August. Every year, the mother turtles, which can weigh up to 200 pounds, return to the same beach to lay their eggs beneath the sand.
Before she follows the sound of the breaking waves and disappears back into the Atlantic Ocean, a mother turtle buries up to 120 eggs. She’ll make this trip as many as five times during the summer. The hatchlings must then dig their way out of the sand and navigate from the nest into the ocean.
Only one in 1,000 of the baby turtles will survive into adulthood. On shore there are fewer nesting habitats for the baby turtles because of coastal development and beach lighting often causes the hatchlings to become disoriented, preventing them from making it into the ocean. Once they reach the water, marine pollution, long-line and net fishermen, and collisions with the watercraft can be dangerous.
The Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project was started to help increase the odds of survival for the tiny hatchlings. At night, volunteers patrol the beaches to look for nesting spots. Once a nest is identified, the eggs are excavated and counted and data about the hatchlings is recorded. As the turtles hatch, volunteers use flashlights to guide the hatchlings towards the ocean (the turtles will follow the light into the surf).
The public is invited to watch the turtles emerge from their eggs and make their way down the shoreline. For more information, go to www.turtles.wrightsville-beach.info.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition