There are several unique factors, experts said, with this group of loggerhead turtles, which are endangered.
Typically, loggerheads nest on sandy beaches from Florida to North Carolina and rarely make their nests north of Virginia. So having a nest in Maryland is uncommon.
While sea turtle nesting has happened in recent years along the shorelines of national lands, National Park Service officials said that this is the “first confirmed hatch and the largest number of hatchlings ever recorded” on a national park seashore.
“We are thrilled with this outcome,” said Bill Hulslander, chief of resource management for the national seashore at the Park Service. He said this event “underscores the increasing importance of undeveloped beaches along Assateague Island to sea turtles.”
Loggerhead turtles are protected under federal law. Their nests and the hatchlings are common at national parks shores in such places as Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, Padre Island in Texas and Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Some areas at Assateague, where the latest hatchings have been, are closed to visitors for a bit.
Officials said they are not expecting any additional sea turtle nests to hatch this season, according to a statement. But they’re hopeful that some will hatch next summer.