Last Updated on August 8, 2023 by Kathy Rukat Smith
You might be asking what sea turtles have to do with real estate. They don’t, but they are important to our area and you will hear a lot about sea turtles throughout the spring and summer.
A great way to keep up with the sea turtle activity in our area is to follow the S.C.U.T.E. Facebook Page.
When is Sea Turtle Season?
Sea turtle season starts May 1 and ends at the end of October. You can see sea turtles in the waters off the areas coasts from April to November.
What do you need to know about sea turtles?
While there are 7 types of sea turtle species, only 4 are found in our area. The most common is the loggerhead turtle but you may also see green, Kemp’s ridley and leatherback sea turtles.
Female sea turtles come onshore at night from May to August to lay their eggs. They dig a hole above the high tide line about 18 inches deep and that is where they lay their eggs. Females turtles can nest up to 4 times in one season. Those eggs incubate for about 60 days and are at risk from predators such as foxes, ghost crabs, higher than normal high tides and humans. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the nest in the second trimester. The hatchlings crawl to the ocean guided by the moon.
Volunteer members of SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) help keep track of turtle nests and turtle hatchlings on our coast. Each morning, they walk the beaches looking for signs of a new nests. When they find a new nest, it is marked off for protection and reported to DNR. Later in the nesting season, they also watch for signs of hatched nests. They inventory the nest and release any hatchlings that may not have been able to get out on their own.
Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to witness several inventories and even help count the eggs once.
I will include some pictures of baby hatchlings, nest inventories and the protective cages around the nests. You can also look back through my Facebook page and search “sea turtles” for other posts and pictures.
What are the Rules Regarding Sea Turtles?
- All sea turtles are an endangered and protected by state and federal laws. Federal penalties include jail and a $15,000 fine for each offense.
- If you see a mama turtle coming onshore to lay a nest, do not approach the turtle or take pictures with a flash. Both could scare the turtle back into the ocean and the eggs she is carrying could be lost.
- Do not try to sit on or ride a turtle. Sadly, this has happened. Be respectful of nature and watch the turtles from a distance.
- Do not dig up a turtle nest.
- Remove any trash and do not leave beach chairs, tents, toys and other things on the beach. Turtles can get entangled in the objects.
- Before you leave the beach for the day, fill any holes you dug. Not only can people fall in the holes and get hurt, but turtles can as well.
- If you are staying in an ocean front condo or home, turn off exterior lights facing the ocean. Hatchlings can get confused by the lights thinking they are the moon and head away from the ocean.
Sea Turtle Links
Education Materials: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/outreach.htm
S.C.U.T.E. Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SCUTE-36320641283
Garden City Surfside Sea Turtle Guardians Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1386608734999979
Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring Websites for 2021:
You will start seeing results as nests are laid.
- Garden City Beach: http://www.seaturtle.org/nestdb/index.shtml?year=2021&view_beach=30 (You can also adopt a nest!)
- Huntington Beach State Park: http://www.seaturtle.org/nestdb/index.shtml?view_beach=31
- Surfside Beach: http://www.seaturtle.org/nestdb/index.shtml?view_beach=29
Being able to witness the cycle of life with sea turtles is only one of the great things you get to witness while living at the beach. Let’s do our part to protect the sea turtles and their habitat. If you have any questions about sea turtles, comment below. I’ll be happy to answer your questions or find out the answer.