Last Updated on June 19, 2022 by Kathy Rukat Smith
Because you live at the beach, you will be hearing a lot about sea turtles in the next few weeks. Sea turtle season in our area starts May 1 and runs through the end of October. Since sea turtles are a federally protected, endangered animal it is important to know what to do and not to do when you see a sea turtle. In today’s video, I will share some sea turtle information. You can also look back at Episode 31 for more information on sea turtles.
Artificial light can disorient sea turtles during nesting season. It can also disorient sea turtles when they hatch and make their way back to the ocean. The turtles are guided by the blue and green wavelengths that reflect off the ocean. Artificial light can be brighter than the natural light and the hatchlings will head toward the artificial light versus the natural light. For this reason, it is important for ocean front properties to keep their lights off during the nesting season or use approved turtle friendly lighting. I’ve included some links to turtle friendly lighting as well as more information about keeping lights out.
- Lights Out for Loggerheads – https://www.dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/lights.htm
- Turtle Friendly Lighting – https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/criteria/certified/
What To Do if You See a Sea Turtle Washed Up on the Beach?
First, do not attempt to push the turtle back into the ocean. Call DNR/s 24/7 hotline at 800-922-5431 or SCUTE (SC United Turtle Enthusiasts) at 843-237-9821. They will need the following information…
- The exact location of the turtle
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
- The estimated size of the turtle
- Has the turtle been marked with spray paint?
- The location of the closest access point to the turtle.
Also, stay with the turtle until someone arrives.
Other than not disturbing a sea turtle if you see it on the beach, the next most important tip is to not disturb a turtle nest. The nests are clearly marked by SCUTE volunteers so you will know where they are.
You may also wonder why some nests are moved. Nests may be relocated by approved SCUTE volunteers for a few reasons.
- In higher traffic areas, nests will be relocated to a quieter section of the beach to give them the best chance of survival.
- Nests could be moved above the normal high tide line.
- Nests will be relocated to another area during beach renourishment projects.
- Volunteers could move remaining eggs if part of the nest has been destroyed by predators.
Seeing an adult sea turtle or hatchling is a special and rare event. Please follow these and other tips to protect the sea turtle population in our area.