By Mary Pringle for The Island Eye News
The year 2020 has been very strange in so many ways, but sea turtles have taken no notice of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were here at the time of the dinosaurs and managed to survive the cataclysmic event that caused their extinction. In recent years, nest numbers have dipped every four years, followed by a rebound of record numbers. This year was an interim year between that dip and spike, with average nest numbers for our beaches all along the Atlantic Coast.
The Turtle Team had its last nest produce hatchlings overnight on the last day of September at 21st Avenue on the Isle of Palms.
Now most sea turtles are well on their way to warmer waters for the winter.
Even though it was not a record breaking season as in 2019, it was a good year, with 48 nests on both islands combined. The Isle of Palms had 40 nests after having 57 in 2019, and Sullivan’s Island had eight nests after having 15 last season. Once again, although hurricanes in the Atlantic threatened to erode the dunes and destroy eggs, Isaias failed to wash away any nests since its closest approach occurred at low tide near Charleston.
Other beaches north and south of us were not so fortunate. Sometimes timing is everything.
Once again, we are so grateful to all who rose at dawn seven days a week to patrol the beach, to the vacation rental agencies who helped keep the beaches dark, to the police, fire, city administrators and other workers on both islands who always assist in many ways to help our loggerheads nest and allow hatchlings make it to the ocean. It wouldn’t happen without you!
You can find final summaries for all beaches at seaturtle.org if you look under Resources/Nesting/South Carolina and choose Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island.