South Carolina Sees Record-Setting Half a Million Sea Turtles Hatched This Year
It's been a banner year for little loggerheads in the Palmetto State.
Hurricane Dorian was no match for this year's batch of baby loggerhead sea turtles. Despite losses to the storm, more than half a million loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings have made it to the sea in South Carolina so far—a record-breaking year for the threatened reptile in the Palmetto State.
According to The Post and Courier, preliminary data from the state Natural Resources Department counts about 525,500 turtles emerged from 8,857 nests. For comparison, the previous record nesting year, 2016, had 396,441 eggs emerge from 6,446 nests.
This unprecedented success has been credited to South Carolina's turtle recovery program which utilizes hundreds of volunteers who mark and monitor nests as well as state and federal wildlife biologists who relocate nests deemed in danger of washing away. They also install mesh cages around the nests to keep predators like raccoons out. It's a herculean effort dating back to the 1970s, and it's finally paying off.
"It has been an amazing season," Michelle Pate, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources sea turtle recovery coordinator, told The Post and Courier.
It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings will survive to adulthood, so their odds are certainly improving.