May 29 2019

First Three Loggerhead Nests Found By New Volunteers

By Mary Pringle for The Island Eye News

Photos by Barbara Bergwerf

Turtle team volunteers Tee Johannes and Mary Pringle inspect the first loggerhead nest on Isle of Palms at 6th Ave.

It’s an exciting time when our nesting sea turtles return to nest in the dunes on the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. When the first two nests were laid on Kiawah Island and Hilton Head the last week of April, we knew we would soon get our first one. On the morning of May 7 there were tracks two feet wide leading up to a spot in between two dune walkovers not far from the 6th Ave. access path.

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Reminders from DNR Marine Turtle Program
• Report all sick/injured/dead sea turtles and nest disturbances to the SCDNR at 1.800.922.5431 so that staff/volunteers can respond as soon as possible.
• Respect boating laws and boat cautiously, especially in small tidal creeks where sea turtles like to feed. Boat strikes have emerged as the leading cause of death for sea turtles in South Carolina.
• Keep artificial lights off the beach at night during nesting season – this includes beachfront property lights and flash photography, which can disorient nesting mothers and hatchlings.
• Always respect sea turtles by observing them from a distance on the beach. Individuals that violate federal law by harming or interfering with sea turtles or their nests can be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000 and up to a year’s imprisonment.
• Keep our beaches and ocean clean by avoiding single-use plastics. Plastic bags and balloons are among the most common trash items found on South Carolina beaches and can cause injury or death when sea turtles mistake them for food.
• Promote and support our program for continued conservation of sea turtles in South Carolina.

Frannie Bryan was out for her very first turtle patrol as a new member of the Island Turtle Team. Along with her were Ellen Gower and Jackie Taylor, veteran members of the team who have found many nests in the past. Once we located the eggs by probing the sand, we decided to leave the nest where it was laid. It was marked with the orange sign provided by SC Department of Natural Resources, which notifies the public of the protection that the eggs, hatchlings and adult loggerheads receive by law since they are an endangered species.

After six more nights two more nesting loggerheads visited the Isle of Palms in the wee hours of the morning on May 13 laying Nests #2 and #3. One of these was

again up against two of the many sets of wooden stairs crossing the dunes in the 600 block of Ocean Blvd. Nest #2 was found by Elaine Schupp and Jane Solomon. Jane was on her first day of turtle patrol.

Nest #3 found the same morning was on the northern edge of our patrol area in Dewees Inlet beyond the 17th tee of the Links Golf Course in Wild Dunes. Mary Michels was taking her first walk looking for nests just as Jane and Frannie were.

She was partnered with Kristen Ayers and Christel Cothran who have found many nests.

 None of these first three nests was relocated and coincidentally all were found by newbies on their first walk. Beginner’s luck must be a real thing. We are hoping to be able to find and protect many more nests between now at the end of the season in the fall.

Mary Pringle has been the Project Leader for the Isle of Palms/ Sullivan’s Island Turtle Team since 2000. It is one of about thirty nest protection projects under the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. She is also on the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network.

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