All my life I have risen with the sun to scour the beach for turtle tracks and capture the sunrise in photographs. One morning during our most recent trip I took Em with me. It was special to do this with her since I have the fondest memories of going out in the early light with daddy and Grandmama. Sharing this with her I had all the feels. I may have even teared up some. I had been hoping for a spectacular sunrise and some turtle tracks to share with her. Well God and some Lowcountry magic delivered. Not only did we stumble directly upon the first set of tracks while walking onto the beach from our car we saw two more crawls that day. One false crawl, one destroyed nest and one that was relocated to safer grounds, so she was able to see all types. And the sunrise was spectacular.
Loggerheads are internationally endangered. Never touch or use flash photography around mamas or baby turtles.
The scientific name for Loggerhead turtles is Caretta Caretta. Caretta was a legitimate name contender for baby girl.
If you are staying in a house on the beach always turn off all of the lights at night, these can confuse nesting mamas. They use the stars and moon reflection on the ocean to navigate their way back to the sea.
Loggerheads can live to be over 50 years old.
Mama turtles begin nesting around age 35 years.
Mamas can nest three to six times a season. But they do not nest every season. They can go 2-4 years in between nesting seasons.
Nest can contain over 120 eggs.
The temperature of the sand determines if the turtles will be male or female. Warmer temperatures produce more females and cooler more males.
They eat jellyfish, crabs, and conchs using their powerful jaws.
Some of the nest at Hunting Island have to be relocated to higher, safer ground. We were able to watch this.
Nest are caged to keep raccoons and crabs away from the eggs. Within a few days of the nest being ready to hatch the cage is removed so the babies can make there way to the ocean.
Average nest incubation on Hunting Island is 56 days.
Babies must walk themselves from nest to ocean (not be carried) so they can orient themselves to the earth and know where their home beach is.
Nesting females have been shown to return to the same region, even the same beach that they were hatched.
Adopt a Turtle Nest at seaturtle.org and $15 out of $25 will go to Hunting Island. This website also has fact about many areas participating in turtle research.
Friends of Hunting Island website has daily nest notes, ways to donate and turtle facts.
We adopted the nest in the pictures above. You can check the nest notes and status on our nest website through seaturtle.org.
Things to Remember:
NEVER touch a mama turtle, nest, or baby turtles.
Do not walk in or close to the tracks, the volunteers needs to read the tracks to locate the egg chamber.
No flash photography or lights on the beach.
My own personal advice if you join one of the morning turtle walks is to remain a respectful distance until invited closer by one of the volunteers.
Before leaving the beach flatten all sandcastles and fill in any holes you made. These can be obstacles and traps for nesting mamas.
Pick up any trash you find along the beach.
Do not release balloons. These can make their way to the ocean and turtles think a filled, floating balloon is a tasty jellyfish.
To the Friends of Hunting Island Turtle Volunteers:
Thank you for always being so kind and welcoming. I am not surprised because every team I have encountered in my life has been this way, but I am thankful for how friendly, welcoming, engaging and informative the Turtle Volunteers are. It only took one morning for Em to tell me she wants to be a “turtle lady” one day. Me too. I am waiting for a good summer to spend may through Septmeber in Beaufort just to be a turtle volunteer. I still have have the best memories of my turtle walks when I was younger. One time they even put mine and daddy’s initials on the nest for helping find it. Thank you for educating her, drawing her in and allowing her to help. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to helping preserve the turtles for generations to come.