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South Carolina Loggerhead Turtles

Together with Santee Cooper and volunteers like S.C.U.T.E. we are setting out to make a difference within our community. Please join Garden City Realty with the conservation efforts to defend Loggerhead Turtles.

South Carolina's state reptile, the Loggerhead Turtle, is listed as a threatened species. Without conservation, they are likely to become endangered, or threatened with extinction in the future. With just a few tips, you can help us preserve and protect these ancient creatures from disappearing from our beaches forever.

  1. Lights Out! Turn off lights, don't disturb nesting turtles. Contact the SC Department of Natural Resources at 843-953-5291 if you see a Loggerhead turtle. When hatchlings emerge from the nest, they are attracted to the blue and green wavelengths of light reflected off the ocean. They use this natural light to guide them towards the ocean. This same thing is used by adult females when nesting. If an artificial light source on the beach is brighter than the natural light, the hatchlings will head towards this artificial source. These artificial lights can be a beachfront home/condo's exterior light, a street light; and even indirect light that creates a sky glow effect. The hatchlings become disoriented by the lights and crawl away from the ocean towards the brightest light. Hatchlings are more susceptible to predators and will use up valuable and limited energy they need to swim to the Gulf Stream.
  2. Clean Up! Don't Pollute, take your garbage with you when you leave the beach. Clean up trash you see along the beach, even if it doesn't belong to you. Tell others to do the same! Garbage resembles food in the Loggerhead turtle's diet. For example, plastic baggies look like their favorite snack – Jellies. For a turtle, just a few ounces of debris can be fatal if it obstructs the stomach. Plastic can weaken the turtles by taking up space in the stomach which would otherwise digest food. Loggerheads are opportunistic feeders that will eat almost anything that is in front of them and plastic stays around for a very long time in the ocean.
  3. Fill in Holes! Fill in holes and smooth over sandcastles. Hatchings can get caught in holes when heading to the ocean. This will make then susceptible to predators like crabs & birds as well as the hot sun.

Turtle Facts:

  • Caretta Caretta: The scientific name of Loggerhead Turtles. The Loggerhead Turtle is South Carolina's official state reptile. The South Carolina Loggerhead population is listed as threatened. Without conservation, Loggerhead Turtles are likely to become endangered, or threatened with extinction.
  • Every Sea Turtle returns to land to lay her eggs. The tiny Loggerhead Turtle has the hardest journey of all the sea creatures, as they can only travel as fast as the Gulf Stream current (about eight miles/hour). Through evolution, Sea Turtles have developed immunity to the sting of Jellies and enjoy the texture of their tentacles, making Jellies their favorite snack. 
  • A turtle never gets lost. Turtles determine their location by following the magnetic lines of the earth that run North to South. They don't just have an internal compass; they have a map of the ocean world inside of them and follow the path of their ancestors. An adolescent Loggerhead Turtle can hold its breath for up to 30 minutes and will eat a variety of creatures (more than just Jellies) like crabs and Welks.

Her Story:

Once the Loggerhead hatching reaches the ocean, she will swim for two days and two nights (about 60 miles) to reach the Gulf Stream, a warm river within the Atlantic Ocean that stretches from the Caribbean to the North Atlantic (it flows North). The baby Loggerhead will find a raft of Sargassum Seaweed to hide in and sleep for the first time in her life, about five days after hatching. Baby turtles will travel for hundreds of miles along the Gulf Stream on their raft of Sargassum Seaweed. In the spring, young Loggerhead Turtles travel the Gulf Stream, the Great Highway of the Atlantic Ocean, to the wild waters of the North Atlantic feeding grounds, to arrive in time for summer. (Approximately 1553 miles from the beaches where she was born.) Eddy's that form in the Gulf (circular patterns of water, or currents, that break off from the Gulf) can take the tiny Loggerhead off course and into the Sargasso Sea. *The Sargasso Sea is a body of stagnant water in the center of the Gulf Stream (Atlantic Ocean) approximately 1,864 miles wide. It has no current and no tide. What enters the Sargasso Sea seldom leaves; oil from ships and garbage will stay on the surface for years.

Over time the young Loggerhead will grow strong as her skin thickens and shells harden. Close to her fifth birthday, she is a little more than 19.5-inches long. By the time she is six years old, she will have traveled more than 4,350 miles from the beaches where she was born. Young Loggerhead Turtles will travel from the Grand Banks, half-way between Canada and Europe where the cold arctic and warm Gulf Stream waters come together and stir-up a bed of nutrients from the seafloor, and down the coast of Europe, past Africa to the Azores Islands (the Great Cross-Roads of the Atlantic) where they spend the summer. Continuing on her journey, the young Loggerhead crosses the Atlantic on the Equatorial current, taking about four months, to the Caribbean Islands. She doesn't make this trip until she is big enough to survive, this is not an accident. She stays here for about 15 years.

When she's about 21-25 years old she is more than three feet wide and long. She leaves the Caribbean for the Gulf Stream during the Great Spring Migration. She will leave the Gulf Stream and turn West towards shallow waters and the beaches she was born. Taking her more than 20 years and 6,200 miles she returns to the beaches, about 6,000 times bigger than when she hatched, to lay her eggs. Only one in 10,000 turtles make it this far. Once she lays her eggs, she returns to the Caribbean. She only returns to the beaches she was born every two-three years to lay her eggs.

For more information on Loggerhead Sea Turtles please visit these Websites: