CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Sea turtles are breaking numbers in the Palmetto State!
The Department of Natural Resources said sea turtles have laid the highest number of nests on South Carolina’s beaches since the early 1980’s.
As of July 10th, staff and volunteers have counted 6,978 nests by ground survey along the coast. The previous record, set in 2016, was 6,446 nests.
“This has been a tremendous season so far, and we are grateful for our dedicated network of volunteers in South Carolina who make this large-scale conservation effort happen,” said biologist Michelle Pate, who oversees SCDNR’s sea turtle program.
SCDNR said hatching season has also recently begun; the first hatching of the year was on Hilton Head Island back in late June.
According to DNR, 2019 season has been marked by numerous unusual events, beginning with an early start date and including a nest laid by a Kemp’s ridley, the world’s most endangered sea turtle.
They said volunteers and staff have also documented a high number of so-called ‘day nesters,’ female sea turtles that come ashore in broad daylight to nest rather than under the typical cover of darkness.
“Day nesters tend to be pretty rare, isolated events,” said Pate. It’s not clear why so many females are nesting during daylight hours this year, but some possibilities include harassment during emergence at night and extremely dry sand conditions due to a lack of rain, which can hinder females from digging a nest cavity.