“Every flipper swoop she made dug her a bit deeper into the sand instead of propelling her to the water.”

By Meghan Overdeep
June 16, 2021
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One man's poor night of sleep saved the life of an endangered sea turtle in South Carolina last week.

Steve Brooks was visiting Hilton Head Island with his wife Pam when he was struck by a bout of insomnia. Unable to sleep, Steve decided to go for a walk on the beach instead. Strolling through the dark around midnight, he came across a mama loggerhead turtle stuck in the sand.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island
Credit: Pam and Steve Brooks

Steve assumed the large sea turtle would eventually go back to the water, but when he found her in the same place hours later, he called South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for help.

SCDNR dispatched Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island, a volunteer-run nonprofit that monitor sea turtle nesting on Hilton Head Island. Steve's wife Pam kept guard over the exhausted animal until patrol staff arrived.

"She had nested, we determined later, and as she took a long arduous wandering crawl back to the water, she paused, exhausted, and every flipper swoop she made dug her a bit deeper into a pit into the sand instead of propelling her to the water," Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island wrote on Facebook.

A crowd gathered as patrol staff worked to free her. They dug some sand away and helped her by lifting and pushing her out of the hole. After a long night, she finally made her way to the sea.

"Biggest thanks to Steve and Pam for quick thinking and wonderful support for this beautiful sea turtle!" the patrol wrote.

Good work, everyone!