It’s that time of year again and the first loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings of the season are starting to emerge from their nests.
Volunteers with the Friends of Hunting Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program have had a few nests hatch already and one ‘boil’ on Sunday with 27 hatchlings erupting from their nest in front of beachgoers, and Harbor Island saw its first hatchlings on Monday morning. (see video below by the fine folks at the Harbor Island Turtle Patrol)
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. Looking at totals on our area beaches, according to SeaTurtle.org, which publishes nest totals and updates daily, Hunting Island has seen a total of 54 nests along its beaches through July 23rd. Locally, Fripp Island has 57 nests; Harbor Island 40 ; Pritchard’s Island has seen 56; 2 have been found at Land’s End and 7 at Coffin Point, both on St. Helena Island; and 22 on Little Capers Island.
Check out some amazing video of volunteers and beachgoers forming a lane to help a nest full of newly hatched sea turtles find their way to the ocean at Hunting Island Beach on Sunday.
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.
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.
Good luck little hatchlings….we’re pulling for you.