Hilton Head Island's Latest Efforts to Protect Sea Turtles and Beachgoers
A ban on long beach shovels, large holes in sand.
Baby sea turtles are about to get a helping hand from the folks in charge of Hilton Head Island’s beaches. The Island Packet reports that Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, home of the two-headed sea turtle, is considering banning shovels and large holes in a bid to protect the South’s beloved sea turtles.
Sea turtles bury their eggs in nests on the sandy shores and when they hatch, the newborn sea turtles must make a treacherous sprint across the beach to the relative safety of the water. The hatchlings journey is made difficult by sea birds who snack on the tiny turtles and by obstacles left in their path by humans who may not know better. Those obstacles include holes left in the sand by people playing at the beach. While they just look like holes to us, to baby sea turtles they are traps that can be nearly impossible to escape.
Now, one beach town is considering banning big holes and the large shovels that make them in a bid to help sea turtles. Last week, members of Hilton Head Island’s public planning committee unanimously voted for an ordinance that would ban large shovels and unfilled holes on the beach. The ordinance is now going to the full Hilton Head Island Town Council for a vote on Sept. 17. If the ban passes the full City Council, according to The Island Packet, Beaufort County sheriff's deputies would be able to ticket anyone who breaks the rules.
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While it’s hard to imagine a day at the beach without shovels and holes, the ordinance would ban very specific types of both: Shovels larger than 14 inches and holes bigger than 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, which would be death traps for little sea turtles. That means it would still be legal to let your little one dig in the sand at Hilton Head’s gorgeous beaches. That said, if you’re looking to make life a little easier for sea turtle hatchlings making their long, dangerous journey from their nest to the sea, The Island Packet suggests knocking down sand castles and filling up those holes when you’re leaving the beach, as both can create nearly insurmountable obstacles for the hatchlings. Plus, filling holes with sand to save turtles is easy, kind, and fun.