Female sea turtles return to the exact location where they themselves were born to lay their eggs. Researchers believe they use the Earth’s magnetic field as an internal compass. ©Valerie Wimberly

With the official start of summer arriving in just a little over a week, our thoughts are naturally turning to the world’s beaches. We won’t be the only ones, however, who’ll soon be populating the sands.

Sea turtles are found in almost every ocean basin throughout the world. Although they spend most of their lives at sea, females must return to land to lay their eggs. And it’s not just any terrain they go back to: they go home to the precise location where they themselves were born. A new study suggests that they rely on Earth’s magnetic field—and each coastline’s own magnetic signature—as a means of navigation.

Sea turtles may deposit up to 200 eggs in one nest. ©From the video “From Sand to Sea and Back—Solomon Islands Sea Turtles,” Seedlight Pictures

A sea turtle’s nest may contain up to 200 eggs. Females bury their clutch in the sand, where the eggs incubate for about 50 days before hatching. Baby sea turtles are then immediately faced with the task of making a perilous, nighttime journey from the beach to the ocean. In addition to natural predators, threats to the young at this vulnerable time include rapid climate change and poachers.

Take a look at the video below, produced by Seedlight Pictures for The Nature Conservancy. You’ll be able to watch a new generation of sea turtles come to life and take to the sea in the Arnavon Islands, nestled within the Solomon Islands, located east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia in the South Pacific. In one of the most unusual partnerships in the world, the conservancy and local Arnavon communities—including some who are reformed poachers and former turtle-eaters—band together to protect two of the seven types of sea turtles that nest there: the green and hawksbill. Patrollers protect nests from predation by installing protective mats and help assist the newly hatched turtles in making a safe journey to sea. Because of such efforts, the number of annual hawksbill turtle nests in the Arnavons has doubled in the last 20 years.

Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of sea turtles. Nearly all species of these ancient mariners are classified as endangered. ©Valerie Wimberly

If after watching this video, you’d like to be part of such conservation efforts, check out the World Wildlife Fund’s sea turtle page and learn how WWF is working to conserve these animals. Then, consider adopting a sea turtle.

To all you beachgoers, here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,