A local beach crew has spotted Mississippi's first sea turtle nest in four years.
The Harrison County Sand Beach crew reported seeing the nest just east of Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi, to The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS), which confirmed the sighting in a Facebook post.
"IMMS is excited to announce that a sea turtle has laid a nest in Pass Christian," the organization shared. "On Monday our Stranding Coordinator received a call from Harrison County Sand Beach reporting a sea turtle track just east of Pass Christian Harbor.
"IMMS Staff went out to assess the track and confirmed the nest location and marked the area off with stakes and flagging tape," the post from the IMMS continued.
The IMMS said the area is protected to avoid harm from "beach maintenance equipment while the eggs are incubating," which typically lasts 50-60 days. The institute also asked the public not to disturb the nest.
The discovery of this nest marks the first known time a sea turtle has laid its eggs on the Mississippi mainland since 2018, according to the IMMS.
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The IMMS promised to keep the public updated about "the time we expect hatching."
The species of the turtle in the nest cannot be determined until the eggs hatch. However, Moby Solangi, president and executive director of the IMMS, told the Associated Press that they are likely loggerhead sea turtles or Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
Solangi believes the discovery of the nest is a positive indicator for sea turtles, especially following the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010.
"After all the environmental disasters we've had, this is a good sign. When (turtle populations) have gone down, it means the ecosystem that supports them is having difficulty," Solangi told the Sun Herald. "When animals start breeding, it means things have started to get better."