It’s that time of year again and the first loggerhead sea turtle hatchling of the season was found along the beach at Hunting Island on Wednesday.
Volunteers with the Friends of Hunting Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program found the little straggler along the beach at nest #1, which actually hatched on Tuesday. This little guy stuck around and must’ve had a tougher time getting out of the nest.
Sea turtle nesting season started at the beginning of May and we are now reaching the point in July where some of the first nests begin to erupt with hatchlings which immediately all begin making their way to the ocean right from the egg. Hatching season generally runs into October along our local beaches.
It’s been an average nesting season so far on our local beaches here in northern Beaufort County. According to nest totals published and updated daily at SeaTurtle.org, Hunting Island has seen a total of 52 nests along its beaches through July 18th. Locally, Fripp Island has 50 nests; Harbor Island 38; Pritchard’s Island has seen 54; 2 have been found at Land’s End and 7 at Coffin Point, both on St. Helena Island; and 22 on Little Capers Island.
With every sea turtle hatchling that breaks out of its soft shell, only one in 1000 will make it to maturity.
For beaches like Harbor, Fripp and Hunting Island, it isn’t unusual for a loggerhead sea turtle to lay nest with 50 to 180 eggs in one clutch, however, if they are lucky, one egg out of each clutch will survive to maturity. Because the eggs take between 45 and 75 days to hatch, their chances in either being preyed upon or destroyed by climate conditions increases. Three of the several causes that endanger sea turtles are predators, climate change and humans.
Friends of Hunting Island wants folks to be aware that If you encounter sea turtle hatchlings on the beach or an emerging nest, it is unlawful to disturb them and it can be harmful to the turtles and asks that we all adhere to the following set of rules:
Do not stand or sit on the sand dunes; it is unlawful to walk on the dunes.
Do not approach any sea turtle hatchlings; give them plenty of space.
Do not handle or hold sea turtle hatchlings.
Do not carry, guide or help sea turtle hatchlings to the ocean.
Do not shine any lights on the hatchling regardless of the color of the light. Do not turn on your cell phone.
Do not take any pictures of the hatchlings; flash photography is harmful to the hatchling.
Any disturbance to a sea turtle nest or emerging hatchlings is unlawful and may harm the animal.
If you are on Hunting Island and see turtle hatchlings, please call the Nature Center at (848) 838-7437.
Check out some video of the little straggler at Hunting Island, by Buddy Lawrence…