We had a hot and humid walk to the inlet without a turtle sighting. After checking around the corner of the inlet, I was walking back to meet the group when I spotted a dark object emerging from the water, very near where the group was located. I radioed the group and all the lights were turned off and everyone sat still as the loggerhead proceeded to crawl ashore to find a place to nest. Unfortunately, she crawled to an area with a steep scarp with no suitable place to nest. She tried a few different places before ultimately turning around and heading back to the ocean. On her way back we were able to take a measurement of her carapace and scan for a PIT tag. Her carapace length was 99.2cm and no PIT tag was found.
The following morning we found the one false crawl from the night before and one new nest! With very little turtle activity that evening, we were blessed to get to see a sea turtle! Who knows, perhaps the one that nested was the turtle we saw and she was able to return and successfully lay! This nest is marked as nest 117 on our state park beach.
See below for pictures from the morning patrol!
Blog Post by: Autumn, Sea Turtle Intern
The relocation of eggs that have been laid in unsafe locations is a popular strategy for conservationists all across the world. Indeed, nests of crocodiles, sea turtles, and some birds have all benefited from this sort of artificial assistance (Pfaller 2009). Vulnerable nest relocation is even a strategy that we even employ here at Edisto Beach State Park during our morning turtle patrol. We relocate about 20% of nests that we deem to have been laid too close to the water or in an otherwise unsafe location, and we move them somewhere where they are not in danger of being washed away. However, I have recently wondered whether saving eggs laid in vulnerable locations may impose artificial selection that maintains poor nest-site selection. In other words, if we save turtles whose mothers laid them in unsafe locations, might they follow in mom’s footsteps and lay unsafe nests as well, negatively affecting the success of future generations?
For this to be the case it would have to be true that some loggerheads consistently nest in unsafe locations while others nest in more safe locations, and also that they can pass this nest-location-selection trait on to their offspring. Thankfully, from what we know about sea turtles it appears that this is not a problem. First of all, loggerhead sea turtles do not consistently select nest sites at particular distances from the high tide line. Instead, the selection of unsafe nesting sites is distributed throughout the population, with an astonishing 97% of turtles selecting an unsafe nesting location at least once in their life (Pfaller 2009). Loggerheads seem to randomly choose to nest too close to the water, and they seem to do it at least once in their life. This means that relocating eggs vulnerable to the tide and erosion saves a lot of hatchlings, and it also means that the hatchlings that were saved are likely to choose safe nesting locations in the future when they hopefully return to Edisto! The wellbeing of our nesting population of sea turtles depends on many dynamic factors including environmental and anthropogenic impacts that we are just beginning to understand. One thing we do know is that from daily lifestyle changes to turtle patrol relocations there is a lot that we can be doing to help.
Pfaller, Joseph B., et al. “Nest-Site Selection in Individual Loggerhead Turtles and Consequences for Doomed-Egg Relocation.” Conservation Biology, vol. 23, no. 1, 2009, pp. 72–80., doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.01055.x.
Night Walk 6/25 - No Turtle Seen
We had a beautiful night walk last night under a starry sky with enough of a breeze to keep the bugs at bay. We also saw some interesting lights in the sky that could have been some sort of military testing, or were they UFO's? I guess we will never know...
Unfortunately, we did not get to witness a sea turtle nesting. The following morning we found two new nests. The tracks of these two nests were very long, so these turtles must have come up during low tide. These nests are marked as 112 and 113 on our beach.
Night Walk 6/23 - No turtle Seen
On Tuesday night, we unfortunately did not get the chance to witness a sea turtle nesting. We had some nearby thunderstorms that were threatening but ultimately they veered further offshore and we were able to still walk.
The following morning we found 3 new nests and 1 false crawl. These nests are 107, 108 & 109.
Night Walk 6/20 - A SUCCESS!
We had a beautiful, starry and breezy walk to the inlet without any turtle sightings. On our way back we were still hopeful that we may get to witness a nesting turtle. We made it back to the office building and we did a quick check to the right of the office, when turtle tracks were spotted!
I crawled up her tracks to see where she was and what she was doing. I could hear the noise of her scooping out the sand for the egg chamber. We patiently waited as she dug a chamber big enough to fit her clutch of eggs. Once she started to lay, we got to witness her finish laying her eggs, cover and return to the ocean. This was a large loggerhead, measuring 107.2 cm in length of her carapace. She also had many different organisms occupying her shell, truly representing her nickname of "moving ecosystem".
The following morning on dawn patrol, only one nest was found! We were blessed to be able to witness the only turtle that nested on our beach that night. This nest is marked as 102 on our state park beach.
We reached nest 100!
We are excited to share that we have officially surpassed 100 nests on our state park beach! This morning we found 3 nests and 2 false crawls. This brings our tally to 101 nests and 38 false crawls. Our volunteers, Ashby & Tabytha, had the pleasure of marking nest 100!
Night Walk 6/18 - A SUCCESS!
Last night we had the pleasure of witnessing a loggerhead sea turtle lay her eggs, cover and then return to the ocean. We walked 0.4 of a mile when I spotted a dark object near the high tide line. We patiently waited from a distance until she found her spot, dug her chamber and started to lay.
We had quite an eventful morning! First, I found a nest that was situated between the Pavilion and the beach access steps. This is not a great place for a nest due to the erosion in this area. It was also laid below the Spring high tide line, so it was relocated. In total we found 5 new nests and 1 false crawl. The turtle from last night was marked as nest number 97 on the state park beach. We decided to relocate this nest in the morning as it was below the Spring high tide line. This turtle laid 128 eggs! See below for pictures from this morning!
First Night Walk of the Season
We had our first night walk on World Sea Turtle Day!
We are still running our night walk program this year but it looks a lot different than previous years. You can learn more about this program and pre-register by calling our Environmental Learning Center, 843-869-4430.
On our first night walk, following the presentation, we walked all the way to the inlet without a sighting. Once at the inlet we were able to catch the last glimpse of a loggerhead sea turtle before she slipped beneath the waves. Unfortunately, she did not nest and had a very long and tiring looking false crawl. Hopefully she returned later to nest.
In the morning, we did not get any photos of the false crawl that we saw, as the high tide had washed it away.
On dawn patrol we found 3 new nests and recorded 2 false crawls. This brought our total to 92 nests and 32 false crawls.
Meet our Sea Turtle Interns
We have been busy keeping up with our nesting sea turtles and also welcoming our three new sea turtle interns to the Edisto Beach State Park! Our interns, Autumn, Rylie & Aidan have been enjoying the busy nesting mornings and learning more about our loggerhead sea turtles.
Stay tuned for future posts from our interns!
Sea Turtle Biologist