Loggerhead Sea Turtles
The loggerhead sea turtle is the state reptile for South Carolina. Male sea turtles almost never leave the water. Female sea turtles leave the ocean only to lay eggs and they may nest every two to three years. Nesting can take between one and three hours. After a female turtle drags herself up the beach, she hollows out a pit with her back flippers and deposits an average of 100 eggs the size of ping pong balls. When the last egg is laid, she covers the eggs with sand and flings more sand about with her flippers to erase any signs of the nest. After about two months, the hatchling turtles emerge at night where the light reflected off the water from the sky guides them to the sea. Sometimes car headlights, street lights, or lights on buildings near the beach cause some hatchlings to travel in the wrong direction. This is called a misorientation and hatchlings may be lost when this occurs.
In the United States, the southeastern region from North Carolina to Florida hosts the majority of the nesting. Nesting occurs during late spring and summer and during this season a female can lay between two and five times. Nests are often lost to predators such as raccoons, dogs, ghost crabs, sea birds and ants as well as to shoreline erosion and human predation.
The loggerhead sea turtle has been listed as "threatened" on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species List since July of 1978. The greatest threat is loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development, predation of nests, and human disturbances (such as coastal lighting and housing developments) that cause disorientations during the emergence of hatchlings. Incidental capture in fisheries is thought to also have played a significant role in the recent population declines observed for the loggerhead.
In order to protect our loggerhead turtles which are considered endangered, please remember to:
- Turn out all lights on beach at dusk from May 1, through October 31.
- Close all drapes if lights are visible on the beach.
- Never move turtle eggs.
- Turtles are protected by federal, state and local laws.
- Pick up all litter on beach.
- Fill in holes or castle moats at dusk.
- Remove all sand toys, beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. at least 10 foot above high tide mark. All tents have to be taken down at dusk.
- Keep dogs on a leash from May to November.
- Report turtle strandings or potential problems to Colleton County Non-Emergency dispatch 843-549-2211.
- Stay away from nesting turtles, turtle nests and turtle hatchlings.
Sea Turtle Town Ordinance- Chapter 10, Sections 10-64 through 10-67A
Find an informative video from South Walton Beach Florida here.
SCDNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program- SCDNR
For more information on Edisto Beach nesting information view the Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring System. A group of volunteers know as the "Turtle Patrol" work with DNR to monitor and report turtle activity on Edisto Beach.