This momma loggerhead sea turtle greeted the Fripp Island Turtle Team at the beach on Sunday morning. Photo by Janie Lackman
It’s turtle time again. Every year in May and June our beaches come alive at night with momma turtles coming ashore to dig and build their nests. Then starting usually sometime in July, those nests explode with hatchlings in a mad scramble for the ocean.
Only a few days into the new season, the Fripp Island Turtle Patrol has been walking the beach for the past few mornings and found the first loggerhead sea turtle of the season late last week.
On Saturday morning, they discovered the second nest of the season, and it looked as if things starting well for the new year.
Then, on Sunday morning when the patrol went out, they were greeted by a momma loggerhead sea turtle as she was making her way back into the ocean after digging her nest and laying her eggs. The third nest of the new season.
What a sight to see.
“What an amazing way to start our new 2017 turtlers off with a morning loggerhead still on the beach,” said Janie Lackman, leader of the Turtle Patrol on Fripp. “This only happens a couple of times each year at best,”
Every morning, Janie and a group of local volunteers will hit the beach around 530am and walk a few miles, acting as caretakers for our local nesting turtles. She became involved in the Turtle Patrol 13 years ago and many of her volunteers have been with the patrol for more than 10 years. “We’re just starting to get into our turtle groove and this was a welcome sight,” Janie said.
Photo by Janie Lackman
“This season has kicked off a bit early with a flurry of activity leaving us all hopeful for another terrific year,” Janie added. “We waited until May 15th last year for our first nest, and then went on to have a record season here at Fripp.”
Fripp Island’s totals for the 2016 season included 117 nests. Those nests produced 9,772 hatchlings with an average hatch success rate of 75%. The overall nesting success rate was 93.8%, with 153 False Crawls/non-nesting emergences which accounts for a 43.3% beach success rate on the Island. Information was provided to us by Janie.
“We had an amazing turtle season last year here on Fripp,” she said. “Turtles had us all over the island all season long. Sadly, we also lost 3 nests to storms, which would have taken us to 120 total. I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm the Lowcountry shows for these amazing creatures and I hope that everyone helps spread the word about how we can all help our turtles.”
As the season progresses….
Loggerhead sea turtle heads back to the Atlantic Ocean after laying her eggs on Fripp Island. Photo by Janie Lackman