I am very excited to share that Miss Murtle and I won the Glass Dharma Earth Day Challenge 2017! We created an unboxing video to share the goodies we won! Our first video was a hit and with all of the positive feedback we have been getting, Miss Murtle will have her own YouTube channel with educational videos. We have already visited the South Carolina Sea Turtle Hospital, a sea turtle release they held and the new sea turtle exhibit at the aquarium. Her first video will be out soon - so stay tuned!
Night Walk Sign-ups have Begun!
Our night walks are a popular program! So be sure to sign up well in advance. Payment is necessary in order to reserve a spot - see below for details!
Remember it is only for ages 11 & up as the night walk can get late and we are walking up to 3 miles!
(We will not be running the program on Tuesday July 4th)
Blog post by: Amanda Csipak
Hello! My name is Amanda Csipak and I am going into my junior year of college at Delaware Valley University. I have had a passion for animals as well as the environment since I was very young which is why I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management.This passion also led me to finding the sea turtle internship here on Edisto Island in South Carolina. I drove from my home in New Jersey down to South Carolina and arrived on the 13th of May.
On my first day of dawn patrol with Leah she made me aware of false crawls and how to distinguish them from a crawl that leads to a nest. A false crawl is when a female turtle has the intention of nesting and comes onto the beach but ends up crawling back into the water without laying any eggs. This can be due to humans disturbing them, lights from surrounding houses deterring them, the turtle not liking the area they have crawled to as well as several other reasons. After not having seen any nests on my first patrol I could not wait to go out again the next morning on the 16th of May to see if any turtles had nested.
Soon after arriving on the beach around 6:30am we saw the first set of turtle tracks on the beach. We took the probes out of the golf cart and followed the turtle’s inward tracks which led to a nest! I was so excited to experience the process of not only locating a nest but also being able to learn how to locate where the eggs are in the nest. Leah began to explain to me how to properly probe as well as where I should mark on the nest to help me narrow down where the eggs could be located underneath the sand. Using the turtles tracks we made a mark in the sand which showed where the midline of the turtle’s body was and then marked the highest point as well as the widest point of the nest. She also taught me that two feet in from where the disturbance starts in the sand from the turtle making its nest is also a good indicator as to where the eggs may be. After marking these areas to make an educated guess as to where the eggs are located, we began to probe the sand. Leah explained to me that you should push the probe steadily and slowly into the sand and if you have located the eggs you will feel a give in the sand. Once feeling the give in the sand you should remove the probe so that the eggs do not get punctured and you can begin to carefully dig for the eggs. Leah found the location of the eggs with her probe and allowed me to dig in the sand to find the eggs. After finding the eggs I was very surprised by the fact that they are not hard like a chickens egg, they are actually rather pliable which allows for shells not to break while the mother turtle releases them into the nest in the sand which can contain a great deal of shells. I was then given the opportunity to take one of the eggs from the nest so that it may be used for DNA testing. When doing this I put on a glove so that there was no direct contact with the egg and I broke the shell releasing the interior particles into the ocean. I then put the egg shell inside the designated vile to be sent away for testing. This was only the beginning of my excitement for the day because to my surprise we ended up finding a total of nine nests on that one morning!
Throughout the morning I was able to assist in the relocation of a nest as well as finding the location of eggs with a probe! Although I have not been here for very long at all I truly appreciate the opportunity I have been given and absolutely love what I have been able to be involved in so far. I can tell that this will be one of the best summers I have ever had and cannot wait to learn more from Leah!
Below are photos taken from Susan Porth:
Our sea turtle season started on May 5th when we got our first sea turtle nest of the season! Since then, we've had 18 more nests. One morning we even had 9 nests, coming close to our record of 10 in one morning (which was set last year).
Our one intern, Amanda Csipak, arrived this past week so she has had a lot of nests to gain experience! Her very first nest, her first relocation and the first time determining the location of the eggs all happened on that 9-nest morning - her blog post will be out soon!
Also, thanks to all the readers of Turtle Talk! I love seeing that this blog is reaching more and more people every week - keep on sharing.
We will be having our annual Turtle Fest event on June 3rd from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Come on out to celebrate the return of our loggerhead sea turtles to South Carolina! It is family-fun event that everyone will enjoy! We will have activities, games, crafts, face painting and more!
This event takes place at the Day-Use Area of our Edisto Beach State Park - entrance located across from the Bi-Lo grocery store.
See the flyer below for more info!
Although it is very unfortunate for a sea turtle to become stranded, it is something that occurs. This year we have had two sea turtle strandings, already two more than last year! Although it is rare we have strandings on our beach, I am trained to complete a stranding to protocol and have a permit issued by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
If you ever see a stranded turtle (dead or alive), on a South Carolina beach, please call the SCDNR stranding hotline at: 1-800-922-5431
I have created a video showing what we do in case of a stranded sea turtle. The video does show a dead loggerhead sea turtle, which may be upsetting to some viewers, so viewer discretion is advised.
I am very excited to announce that we have had our first sea turtle nest on our Edisto Beach State Park! I was on patrol with one of our volunteers, Nona, and we found the nest not too far down the beach. The nest was situated near the beach campground area. The sea turtle made a long crawl across the renourished sand and found the perfect spot near the dunes. She must have been one tired turtle after that long crawl.
See below for photographs taken by Libby Gordon, who was so happy to be able to see a nest and tracks for the first time! Thanks again Libby for being our photographer.
First Crawl of the Season
I found the first crawl today on Edisto Beach State Park! Unfortunately it was a false crawl, which means the sea turtle came ashore but did not nest. She is searching for the perfect spot to drop her clutch of eggs and sometimes she does not find it the first go around.
I am hopeful that she will return soon and nest successfully!
See below for several more pictures I've taken since the beginning of patrols on May 1st.
Portuguese Man of Wars
If you are visiting Edisto at the moment, I have seen Portuguese Man of Wars on our beach - they can give a nasty sting even when dead, so please do not touch!
They are propelled by winds and ocean currents - sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more!
They have a 6" balloon-like float but underneath may be 30-100 feet of stinging tentacles. It could give someone a very painful sting!
Below if a picture taken from one of our volunteers who was out on a walk and spotted one. I also included an article from the Post and Courier, featuring the Portuguese Man of War and their arrival in South Carolina.
I was contacted by a camper at our Edisto Beach State Park, Lynne Branham, for some fossil identification, but she also kindly shared some of her beautiful photographs with me. I thought it would be great to share her pictures as well as include a write-up from Lynne about why Edisto is so special to her. See below for her wonderful write-up and photographs!
Edisto State Park thru the Years
In my 25 plus years of hiking, biking, and camping the state parks of South Carolina, in which I am proud to say that I have visited all of them, Edisto State Park has become the most special to me.
Making the drive down Hwy 174 to Edisto gives me a sense of calmness just knowing that in a few shorts minutes down the road awaits a place like none other for me. I tell people I can just breathe better in Edisto. Its a simple place with just the necessities, so I can relax and enjoy nature. Whether my campsite is at Live Oak or a beach site, makes no matter to me. During the day, I find a quiet place overlooking the marsh, and await any sign of wildlife to photograph. Herons, wood storks, pelicans, and small shore birds are some of my favorites. I also have started taking photos of my favorite shells laying on the beach, and leaving them for others to enjoy as well. The sun never sets my days at Edisto without a quiet walk on the beach to Jeremy Inlet and back. At night, in the darkness of the campground at Live Oak, you can still here the waves rolling in on the beach, and feel the ocean breeze coming across the marsh. My only complaint is that the days seem to go too quickly, and before I know it I am hooking up my camper for the drive back home, but never without a last minute walk on the beach.
My trips to Edisto started when I was in my twenties. Now at 53 years of age, I appreciate my time there even more. The state park staff, volunteers, and residents of Edisto are some of the nicest folks you will ever meet, and I will continue to make the drive down Hwy 174 as long as I am still able. It is for me a piece of heaven on earth, and a place to be cherished.
- Lynne Branham
Sea Turtle Biologist