First South Carolina Sea Turtle Nests Spotted for 2019 Season on Kiawah and Hilton Head Islands
One was a super rare Kemp's ridley sea turtle nest.
If you've planned a vacation around watching newly hatched sea turtles crawl into the sea or love the sage reptile, perk up your ears.
Last Thursday, the first loggerhead sea turtle nest in South Carolina was laid on Kiawah Island. On Friday, a rare Kemp's ridley sea turtle or Atlantic ridley sea turtle emerged on the beach of Hilton Head Island and laid the second nest of the season, according to Charleston's The Post and Courier. Due to warmer than average waters, the nestings occurred about a week earlier than usual.
The Kemp's ridley sea turtle nest, in particular, was exciting for sea turtle enthusiasts as it's the fourth confirmed nest of the critically endangered species since South Carolina started recording such events more than 40 years ago.
WATCH: Watch This Baby Sea Turtle Make Its Way To The Ocean
All seven sea turtle species known to humans, including both the loggerhead sea turtles and Kemp's ridley sea turtles, are considered endangered or threatened. "Their future has been threatened by fish nets, marine debris including plastic litter they mistake for jellyfish, and the destruction of habitat such as nesting dunes," writes Bo Petersen for The Post and Courier. On a more positive note, Petersen notes, "South Carolina, however, has been a leader in the recovery work, and nesting numbers in the thousands in recent years suggest that loggerhead nesting might have turned the corner on this coast. The turtle is considered a threatened species here, which is a step above endangered."
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, you can help sea turtles by abiding to the following rules:
- Never disturb a sea turtle crawling to or from the ocean.
- Once a sea turtle has begun nesting, observe her only from a distance.
- Do not shine lights on a sea turtle or take flash photography.
- Turn out all lights visible from the beach, dusk to dawn, from May through October.
- Turn off all outdoor and deck lighting to reduce disorientation for nesting adults and hatchlings.
- Close blinds and drapes on windows that face the beach or ocean.
- Fill in holes on the beach at the end of each day as adults and hatchlings can become trapped.
- Do not leave beach chairs, tents etc. on the beach overnight.
- Never attempt to ride a sea turtle.
You can also assist with sea turtle conservation by reporting all dead or injured sea turtles to 1-800-922-5431.
Read more on South Carolina sea turtles on dnr.sc.gov.
We're sending our best thoughts to these valiant, majestic creatures on the eve of their nesting season.