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Sea turtle hatchlings make trek to ocean
Sea turtle hatchlings on Jekyll Island are beginning to make their way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Five nests have hatched so far this year and more are expected soon.

After hatchlings make their way into the ocean, Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff members excavate the nest, count the number of eggs remaining and look for any of the newly hatched that did not make it out, said Breanna Ondich, AmeriCorps member.

Ondich is attached to the research department of the center on Jekyll Island.

Only one nest has been excavated so far this nesting season, but its success is a good sign to turtle center researchers

Around 95 percent of the sea turtle eggs hatched and made it out.

"Anything above about 60 percent we consider good," Ondich said. "That's a very good success rate."

Nesting season is holding steady on Jekyll Island and is on schedule to beat last year's record number of nests.

"The number of nests that we have on the beach right now is 177 and that is the number we had last year, so we're kind of ahead of schedule with our nesting activity," Ondich said.

Ondich attributes the rate of nesting to more turtles traveling to the island. Each time turtle center staff encounters one, a tag is applied for tracking purposes.

More turtles that haven't been previously identified are showing up on Jekyll's shores.

"We usually get turtles that are coming back every two or three years that have tags," Ondich said. "We started seeing a lot of turtles with tags from 2009 and 2010, but we've also seen a lot of new turtles."

Ondich expects more sea turtle nests will be discovered.

Researchers mark nests when they are found but acknowledge they are not always able to locate them.

"The turtles are very good at what they do so they can hide eggs well," Ondich said. "I suspected we might have a few nests pop up that we didn't know about."

The season generally runs from May to October.

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