The state of South Carolina is experiencing a record breaking sea turtle nesting season, as every beach sets new high records of nests on their beaches. The season started early, with the first loggerhead nest laid in April, and here on Dewees we got our first nest on May 3, found by Carey Sullivan and her boot camp buddies from Northern Virginia.
The Post and Courier described it as running out of room on the beach. last week, Channel 4 news posted about the sea turtle nesting record breaking year in the state. It looks like Georgia and North Carolina are also breaking their all time records. Our previous nest record is 21 nests, from both 2006 and 2016. We are now at nest 27 on Dewees, smashing our all time record of 21, which was tied at 21 in 2016.
There is also a curious uptick this year on the number of day nesting turtles. On the morning of June 25 we got a call that there was a turtle nesting on the beach. In 16 years, I have never seen that (though I followed one around the beach one night hoping she would nest about 10 years ago.) One managed to get to the north end when the turtle was still on the beach. Technically, I was walking the south beach but Reggie was doing it for me by drone. That aerial perspective shows just how far up the beach she dragged herself.
Interestingly, she stopped to dig a hole, but for some reason, that didn’t work for her and she didn’t nest.
When we got to the beach, the turtle was in the process of finishing laying eggs. The amount of visible effort she put forth was impressive. She was in very soft sand right against a dead tree. Each time she dropped an egg, her entire body arched and relaxed. We live streamed the whole thing, but here is a video with the sea turtle nesting highlights. It is taken with a BIG zoom on my little canon camera: everyone stayed well back out of her way.
Our first nests have begun hatching.
Here is a video of a couple of tiny hatchlings heading to the sea from our first nest.
Once a nest hatches, we will go in 72 hours later to see the hatch success rates. These dates are publicized in the Dewees Turtle Team’s facebook page and on various boards around the island.
There are still opportunities to walk for the turtle team: sign up here: