What do sea turtles do for fun? This one plays with a bucket of crabs

A bait bucket with live crabs hangs into the water from Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. That’s nothing unusual, but the endangered green sea turtle playing with the bucket is what attracts attention on the Outer Banks fishing pier.

A video shared by the pier, which is run by the North Carolina Aquarium, shows the turtle swimming back and forth, rubbing its large shell back and forth against the bucket.

“This green sea turtle has fun playing around with Sammy’s bait bucket, which has several live crabs inside,” the state-owned pier said on Facebook.

Green sea turtles are listed as endangered and the population is decreasing, according to federal authorities.

The species can live to an estimated 60 years, grow up to 4 feet long and weigh as much as 350 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The turtle in the video was probably not trying to get into the bucket.

“Unlike most sea turtles, adult green turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green turtles, however, will also eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges,” according to National Geographic.

Sea turtles have been nesting in record numbers on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, according to the National Park Service.

At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the park service said the record for sea turtle nests was set in 2016 with 325 nests found.

“Now, with more than a month to go before the nesting season typically winds down, the record has again been broken with the discovery of the Seashore’s 326th nest yesterday,” the park service said.

Most of those, 317, are loggerhead turtle nests, according to the NPS. There have been 11 green turtle nests and one Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the NPS said this week.

“We are encouraged by the increasing numbers of sea turtles using Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches to nest,” said the National Park Service’s Tracy Ziegler. “According to our estimates, almost 11,000 sea turtle eggs have been deposited in beaches on Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke islands.”

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.