What You Need to Know About Sea Turtle Nesting Season in Beaufort
Right around the time Beaufort locals are breaking out their flip flops and heading to the beach, sea turtle nesting season begins! Beginning in early May and running through October, our Lowcountry beaches are lucky enough to have loggerhead sea turtles nesting on them.
Turtle Teams go out EARLY every morning looking for signs of turtle nesting and checking on existing nests. Each beach in our area has a unique turtle program coordinated and permitted through the Department of Natural Resources for their specific area. Many of the programs have Facebook sites and websites so you may follow along throughout the season.
Seaturtle.org is an amazing resource for not only our beaches but beaches across the globe. All South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia turtle programs enter both turtle nesting and stranding information on this site. This is a great site to learn more about everything sea turtle and also follow many programs at once.
Did you know that YOU can help save these wonderful creatures by following a couple of simple guidelines?
LIGHTS OUT – Keep our beaches dark for the turtles. Beaufort County lighting ordinance states that there shall be no visible light on our beaches May through October for our turtles. This includes house and porch lighting as well as NO flashlights on the beach. Lights disturb our nesting turtles and may be deadly to our hatchlings trying to find the ocean. Red colored lights are a no-no as well.
PACK IN and PACK OUT – Remove all items from the beach every evening prior to going home. This includes: tents, chairs, sand toys and trash. Items left on the beach may cause problems for our turtles trying to find a spot to nest.
FILL IN HOLES – Please fill in any large holes that you dig above the high tide line. Turtles may become trapped in these. Large holes also pose a threat to people walking on the beach at night. When hatching season starts these holes may prove deadly traps for hatchlings trying to find the ocean.
PICK UP TRASH – Help keep our beach clean and safe of debris that may end up in our ocean. Sea turtles as well as many other ocean animals may become very ill or die from ingesting plastics and other debris.
GIVE THE TURTLES SPACE – If are lucky enough to see a turtle on the beach, it is important to give her plenty of space to lay. It is illegal to disturb a nesting turtle. If you spook her, she may not lay and that entire clutch of eggs could be lost.
DO NOT WALK IN TURTLE TRACKS – If you come upon turtle tracks on the beach early in the morning or late in the evening, it is very important that you do NOT walk in these. The Turtle Team uses these tracks as well as other field signs to locate the eggs. If the tracks and other nesting signs have been trampled, it makes it far more difficult to find the nest. Once the Turtle Team has investigated a crawl in the morning, large “X” marks are placed on the crawl so that we know it is an old crawl the next day.
Thank you in advance for doing your part to help save our Loggerhead Sea Turtles.
Story & photos by Janie Lackman