Make way for a special kind of tourist this summer— our very own state reptile, the loggerhead sea turtle. Only coming to land for about two hours to nest, it is our most courteous visitor as it leaves only a trail of sand back to the sea. As for their nests, Summer 2019 has already proven to be a plentiful season for turtle eggs after a slow nesting season in 2018. In fact, the first nest was spotted in early May as onlookers witnessed the beauty from the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort. Although turtles lay hundreds of eggs each time, only one in 1,000 baby turtles will reach maturity. Meaning that they need all the help they can get! Here are some tips for helping our friends this summer.
Turtle nesting takes place May 1 – October 31.
- If you see a sea turtle or a nest in the sand, it’s best just to leave them both alone. If a female sea turtle feels threatened by your presence, she will return to the ocean without laying her eggs. Additionally, if a nest is tampered with, it could cause harm to the little ones.
- Building sandcastles is fun but remember to fill in any holes dug in the sand. When the baby turtles hatch, one could fall in and become trapped on their way to the ocean.
- Pick up all trash on the beach. Sea turtles often mistake plastics for food, making them sick.
- Lastly, turn off beachfront lights after 10 p.m. The moon’s reflection on the ocean is used by the mother turtle as well as the newly-hatched babies to find their way back home. Other lights may distract them from their mission.
Thankfully, the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol does a wonderful job monitoring the tiny breeding grounds themselves, but if you see anything suspicious, call 843-213-9074 and check out their website for updates on new nests.
– By Olivia Dimatteo, a blog contributor for Garden City Realty
For more information about loggerhead sea turtles, check out Seaturtles.org for updates provided by South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE) on nesting activity per beach. Organized in 1990, SCUTE is a group of volunteers dedicated to sea turtle conservation. They coordinate volunteer efforts to preserve and monitor nests along approximately 48.5 miles of beach in Georgetown and Horry counties.
SCUTE is permitted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to protect and, when necessary, relocate turtle nests. They also record turtle deaths through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network.
The group also works to control beachfront lighting, which disorients nesting female turtles and hatchlings.
Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, has worked with SCUTE since 1990 to preserve and protect loggerhead sea turtles. Santee Cooper supports the efforts of SCUTE by working to raise awareness about sea turtles through a public education program.
To learn more about Santee Cooper’s involvement with SCUTE or to receive a free Lights Out bumper sticker, visit Santee Cooper – Sea Turtle Protection.
Also, visit Garden City Realty’s very own loggerhead sea turtle page.
Sea Turtle species are covered under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Turtle Protection Act. Disturbing sea turtles during nesting season is illegal. If you feed, touch or disturb the turtles as they come on shore at night to nest – or are already nesting, you will face federal penalties. These penalties include jail time and fines of up to $15,000.