By Island Turtle Team For The Island Eye News
Sea turtle nesting season began on the Isle of Palms when a loggerhead laid a large nest of 148 eggs on May 18 in Dewees Inlet almost at the marsh at Cedar Creek. The nest was laid on a very narrow spit of sand with the creek behind it. As you know, if you read the last issue of the Island Eye, the first nest of the 2021 season in South Carolina was found on Seabrook Island on May 5. Island Turtle Team members have been on patrol at dawn every day on our two islands since May 1, so this was not a surprise. The large clutch of eggs was relocated to the Ocean Point area nearby in Wild Dunes. On May 23 another nest was discovered, again in Wild Dunes, near Summer House on the flat renourished area of the beach and contained 129 eggs, which were found buried under a slight mound of sand near a circular area that may have been dug by beachgoers. The tracks are almost always recognizable, but sometimes it is tricky to find the spot only a few inches across where the large turtle has buried her eggs and then covered them, erasing the clues that show where they are hidden. These eggs are now incubating on a safe and suitable dune near 31st Avenue. Sullivan’s Island got in on the nesting action when Raye Ann Osborne found tracks northeast of the Station 16 path on May 25. In 2020 the nests left near there were often washed over because of King Tides and from the wakes of ships in the channel, which is very close to shore there near Fort Moultrie.
Erosion in that section is frequently a problem. This was a small nest of only 83 eggs which are now incubating not far from the Sand Dunes Club path. Last season we began putting strong plastic screens staked down with tent pegs over some nests because coyotes are beginning to learn that they can dig up these eggs, which are a rich food source for them. We have decided to screen all of our nests in 2021. These screens have openings large enough for the 2-inch hatchlings to crawl out on their own when they are ready.
They should begin to emerge from the sand in mid to late July depending on how hot the weather is between now and then. Hot weather causes them to develop more quickly.
Cooler weather slows them down. By the time this is printed, we will have more nests.
You can see them at the website and Facebook page below.
• Lights Out at Dusk. Any lights that can be seen from the beach should be turned off from dusk to dawn between May 1 and Oct. 31. This is the law on both islands.
• Fill in Holes on the beach that can trap small hatchlings and also large nesters.
• If you see a nesting turtle on the beach, stay back and do not disturb her. Turn off flashlights and don’t use flash photography.
• Report any Stranded Turtles, dead or alive, to 843-697-8733 or 843-886-6522. If it has orange paint on it, it has been documented and is awaiting burial.