Discover Loggerhead Turtle Nesting

By:Marie McAden


 Loggerhead turtle making its way across the beach.
 Loggerhead turtle making its way across the beach.

Loggerhead turtles, those seafaring stars of the South Carolina coast, start to show up for their annual on-shore, egg-laying duties around the beginning of May. The earliest nests were reported April 30 on Harbor Island in Beauf​ort County and Cape Island in the ​Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

That ties the record for the earliest nest on record since the loggerhead program was started in the late 1970s. Typically, loggerheads come ashore to lay their eggs from May to August and as late as October. Over the last decade, an average of 3,378 nests have been documented each season.

The average clutch has 120 eggs. It takes 55 to 60 days before the babies start to pop out of their eggs and beeline it across the beach to the ocean. That would put the start of the hatchlings return to the sea around mid to late July. To check out this year’s progress, click h​ere

Want to help this endangered species continue to grow and prosper? The Department of Natural Resources Marine Turtle Conservation Program asks residents and visitors to keep “Light’s Out for Loggerheads”. Adult females come ashore to nest at night and need a dark beach to be able to navigate in and out of the ocean. Artificial lights in homes can disorient the expectant mothers.

If you’re staying in an oceanfront home or condo, please:
* Turn out all outdoor lights visible from the beach from dusk to dawn through October.
* Close blinds and drapes on windows that face the ocean.
* Sea turtles are bashful. Do not shine lights on them or take flash photography.
* Fill in large holes dug on the beach and remove tents and chairs at the end of the day to make it easier for mamas and hatchlings to trek across the sand. Turtles are not Olympic athletes and could get trapped in holes.
* If you happen to catch a sea turtle nesting, leave her alone. You can watch from a distance, but please don’t disturb!

To learn more about the sea turtles and the Lights Out for Loggerheads program, click h​ere.

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