Sea turtles assault Onslow beach

29 Aug 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Camp Lejeune works hard to maintain a balance between training the nation’s 911 force in readiness and protecting its natural resources.

Maintaining that balance are the personnel of Environmental Conservation Branch, who excavated a nest of Loggerhead sea turtle eggs by hand on Onslow Beach Aug. 16.

The Loggerhead is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1978, requiring federal installations such as Camp Lejeune to make efforts to preserve the species, according to

“These turtles nest all over Onslow beach and outlying islands,” said John Stuebe, a wildlife technician for the ECON branch. “This part where we are excavating these eggs rests on the training side of the beach.”

Since May, 30 nests have been discovered during daily beach patrols, said Stuebe.

“It’s a very straightforward process when we discover a nest,” he explained.

“Upon discovery of a nest, ECON personnel immediately log the event, mark the area and place a cage over the nest protecting the eggs from natural predators.”

The process of handling a discovery may be straightforward, but morning patrols can be confusing at times, explained wildlife technician Sara Hodge.

“We have had 84 total events with 54 false crawls,” said Hodge.

A false crawl is when a turtle surfaces, crawls onto the beach and returns to the ocean without laying eggs, she said.

Although waking up for early morning egg hunts can be trying, the job is very rewarding, she explained. “This is a great job.”

It allows the Marines to do what they do without damaging the natural habitat of the base, said Hodge.

“I love working here because we make sure Marines can complete the mission of training on Camp Lejeune, while I get to see and experience nature while protecting the environment,” concluded Stuebe.

Anyone who visits the beach and discovers a caged nest is required to leave it alone or face punishment under federal law. If you discover a nest, call the Environmental Conservation Branch at 451-5063.