Blog Post By: Christine Segnari, Sea Turtle Intern
One of the most unique parts of Edisto Beach State Park is the interactions between Loggerhead Sea Turtles and the public. Beachgoers, who come from the campground, resorts, or locals to the island, will begin to see these majestic ocean creatures around the beginning of May, and those who do not see the turtles will see the nests they lay in the cover of night. In the early hours of the morning, people can see turtle tracks leading to a pit of thrown sand, which is where the nest is located. During our Dawn Patrols, many members of the public have come up to us and recounted their experience seeing a turtle laying her eggs and how incredible it was to witness. The first nest was found on May 7, 2022, and as of May 29, 2022, there have now been 63 recorded nests on Edisto State Park Beach.
When female Loggerhead turtles come ashore to nest, they lay an average 120 eggs per nest and 3-5 nests per season. Therefore, it is incredibly important that when the public do see sea turtles nesting, they are cautious and stay 20 ft. away from the turtle. Using red light instead of white light ensures that the turtle will not be disturbed. On Wednesday night (May 25th), I was out with one of the Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers. We had just finished with our Night Patrol and had decided to head home. However, a man came to our office and excitedly told us that there was a sea turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs. I could not believe my ears; I had been an intern for a week and a half by this point, and I had not yet seen a turtle nesting. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to.
We kept at least a 20 ft. distance while watching the turtle climb the challenging scarp (where the beach is eroded). We had our lights completely off for most of the time, but occasionally, we would turn on our red lights to see the turtle continue the process of nesting. This experience was amazing, and the couple we shared this moment with made it even better. They were familiar with the nesting protocol; therefore, the turtle wasn’t disturbed before I and the other volunteer arrived at that location. Knowing the correct way to interact with a nesting turtle would allow for a successful nest with minimum disturbance, which is essential due to the amount of turtles that come onto Edisto Beach State Park to nest.
Blog Post By: Sarah Glover, Sea Turtle Intern
My name is Sarah Glover, and I am one of the 2022 Sea Turtle Interns here at Edisto Beach State Park! I am a rising senior at the College of Charleston, where I am majoring in marine biology and minoring in environmental and sustainability studies. It has been an exciting first couple weeks full of turtle activity!
On one of my first days, we spent six hours on the beach during dawn patrol. We found two false crawls and five nests, two of which we relocated. Relocation is necessary in certain circumstances and does not harm the success rate of the eggs if done carefully. One of the relocated nests was just below the high tide line, which means it was at risk of experiencing too many wash overs from the tide. The other one was right on the edge of a scarp, leaving it vulnerable to erosion. We also found a diamondback terrapin, a turtle species that lives in the creeks and nests on the beach. After watching her for a while and trying to release her into the wild, we decided she needed some extra care (she was exhausted, overheated, and malnourished) and took her to the Environmental Learning Center. She is currently at the South Carolina Aquarium being rehabilitated.
My favorite experience so far was when we saw a loggerhead sea turtle on our night patrol a few nights ago! We were able to watch as she emerged from the water, made her way all the way to the dunes, dug her egg chamber, and finally laid her eggs. This was my first time seeing a sea turtle in the wild and it was such an incredible thing to witness! I am very excited for my summer as an intern here at EBSP learning about and helping protect loggerhead sea turtles!
Blog Post By: Dalton Moore, Sea Turtle Intern
Hello, my name is Dalton Moore! I am a sea turtle intern for the summer here at Edisto Beach State Park. I am a Marine Biology major at the University of South Carolina to further my career through conservational biology or research. Edisto has always been like a second home to me, so I was very ecstatic to receive the opportunity to do something so unique in such a familiar place!
When you typically hear “’ Tis the Season,” it is usually a holiday reference. But I am here to provide another way of celebration. THE SEA TURTLES ARE BACK! Here on Edisto Island, we predominantly see Loggerhead Sea Turtles allocate nests along the shorelines near estuaries. The Loggerhead turtles are known to use the earth’s magnetic fields for nesting within 40-50 miles of where they were initially hatchlings. The season for nesting began in early May and will continue until September. Numerous female sea turtles will push themselves onto the beach. Typically, beginning to create a hole between the high tide line and the dune front that is approximately 18-24 inches deep. However, this is not always the case. Some may lay their nest below the tidal line and become washed over. Either way, the female turtle will then presume to deposit an average of 100 eggs. After her egg chamber is laid, she will then cover the eggs with sand using her flippers in an attempt to erase the signs of her nest. She will then return to the ocean but return 3-5 more times that season to a similar location to lay more nests.
As a member of the Turtle Patrol, I work with my fellow interns and our coordinator Leah to help identify and document the nest. Within our first two weeks, we have already established 23 nests and 13 false crawls. 20 of the 23 were successfully laid and registered as in situ nests, which means the nest was not removed. However, 3 of the 23 were relocated in an attempt to avoid erosion of the nest from tidal waves. It was essential to move the eggs carefully one by one to prevent disturbance and rotation of the egg, which could disturb the developmental stage of the sea turtle. Overall, the beginning of the season has been tremendous and suggests that we may have a busier season compared to the previous season, where the first nest in Edisto Beach was not documented until May 15th, 2021. I am beyond excited to work with my fellow staff to provide exponential success with nesting turtles and, eventually, hatchlings!
My name is Dalton Moore. I am a rising senior at the University of South Carolina. I am majoring in Marine Science in attempt to further my career through conservational biology and/or research. My hobbies include anything related to the outdoors whether it be going to the beach, golfing, hiking, etc. I have always lived near Edisto Island and with every chance I had, came to visit the beautiful coastal area. I look forward to working with the other interns to provide help and knowledge to this wonderful internship opportunity.
Hi, my name is Christine Segnari (she/her)! I am studying Wildlife Conservation and Water Systems & Sustainability at Virginia Tech. In the future, I want to work with marine life in tagging, research, and rehabilitation. In my spare time, I enjoy reading or watching Netflix.
Hi, my name is Sarah! I’m from Lawrenceville, GA. I’m a rising senior at the College of Charleston, where I am majoring in Marine Biology and minoring in Environmental and Sustainability Studies! I also volunteer at the South Carolina Aquarium as a Conservation Assistant. In my free time, I enjoy reading, learning calligraphy, and practicing photography. I fell in love with sea turtles during a school field trip to Jekyll Island in seventh grade, and I am so excited to be working with and learning more about them this summer!
The turtles have been keeping us busy! We are already at nest 10 on Edisto Beach State Park. Last season we did not find our first nest until May 15th, so we are well ahead of schedule with our nest count. Did the season just start earlier this year or will it be another big season? Stay tuned to find out!
Our interns have begun turtle training and will be introduced on the blog soon! They will be writing blog posts to share as well, either on a topic that fascinates them or their personal experiences. We are so thankful for their help and are excited for them to get to experience our Edisto turtles!
We are very excited to share that the first nest at Edisto Beach State Park has been found on May 7th! Along with the first nest, two false crawls were documented. A false crawl can be natural, where the sea turtle did not find the right spot to nest, but it can also be due to human disturbance. Be sure to keep a distance of 20ft if you happen upon a sea turtle and keep all lights out (unless the color red). Thank you for helping us to keep a safe place for the sea turtles to nest!
What are your guesses for the total season count?! Will it be another record year? Time will tell. So stay tuned to the blog to find out!
Our popular sea turtle night walk program will run every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in June and July, beginning June 7th. Our reservation system has moved online this year. To learn more about the night walk program and to register, please visit: https://southcarolinaparks.com/products/10002569
Sea Turtle Specialist