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Loggerhead Nesting Update

By Mary Pringle for the Island Eye News

(Photo by Tee Johannes).

Sea turtle nesting is well underway on the South Carolina coast. As of May 29, there were 715 loggerhead nests and one leatherback nest along with 626 false crawls reported in the state. There have been 28,385 eggs counted during nest relocation, but this number does not include the nests that were not moved. The average number of eggs in a nest is standing at 124.

As expected, the National Wildlife Refuge at Cape Romain leads the count with 332 nests. This includes 160 on Cape Island, 150 on Lighthouse Island and 22 on Bull Island.

The Isle of Palms has recorded five nests and one false crawl since the first one was laid on May 19. Sullivan’s Island had the first turtle crawl ashore during the night on May 29 at Station 14½, but she turned around before reaching the high tide line and did not nest. We hope that she will have returned and nested, and we expect to have more nests on all of our islands by the time this is printed. According to Judy Fairchild, Dewees Island is off to a great start, with three nests and three false crawls by May 29.

The response of the Turtle Team to nests and stranded turtles is unfortunately still limited because of South Carolina

Department of Natural Resources rules resulting from the coronavirus. It is more difficult to perform the needed work required with only one or two people. Crowd control is also an issue since people are not supposed to gather close together, even in small groups, when a nest or a stranded turtle is found. We hope for everyone’s sake that these rules and the virus will be gone before long.

Here is a summary of Isle of Palms nesting activity:

  • May 19 – Nest #1 found near 614 Ocean Blvd. by Ellen Gower and Jodie Morgan was laid in a low spot near the tide line and moved to the dune there. It was a large clutch of 147 eggs.
  • May 21 – Nest #2 found by Ed Peyser at 208 Ocean Blvd. This one was laid high on a dune near the 2A access path and did not have to be relocated.
  • May 23 – Nest #3, found by Stan Schwab and April Nesbitt at the Wild Dunes Property Owners’ Beach House, was relocated to a dune near 51st Avenue in Wild Dunes. There were 109 eggs.
  • May    25 – Nest #4, laid at the Boardwalk Inn in the Wild Dunes Resort at the high tide line, was found by Sue White. There were 125 eggs that were relocated near Nest #3 at 51st Avenue.
  • May 26       – Nest #5, first seen by Paige Owens at Shipwatch in Wild Dunes on the flat beach with no dunes. The 135 eggs were moved to the Ocean Point dunes nearby.

We are hopeful that our nesting mothers will begin to choose locations where the dunes are suitable and that they will crawl to locations where the tide will not destroy their eggs.

 

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