We had a beautiful night for a walk on Saturday. There was a meteor shower but with all the clouds we did not get to see anything. We got to catch a glimpse of a sea turtle that was heading back to the ocean after deciding not to nest. Other than that, there was no other turtle activity seen. The following morning, our intern, Skyler, and our volunteer, Tori, found two new nests! They mark nest 105 & 106 on our state park beach. If you would like to adopt one of these nests, click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The unique ID's for nest 105 & 106 are: 233432 & 233434. Part of the proceeds from the nest adoptions goes back to our EBSP turtle program. See below for some pictures taken from the morning patrol!
We had a busy and unusual night walk! I had gotten a call around 8:15 p.m. that there were hatchlings seen at nest 20. Concerned beach goers called the DNR hotline as they were not sure if they were okay. Before hatchlings emerge or "boil" they seem very dormant but they are just waiting for that perfect moment.
So, we started out night walk by going on to the beach to witness nest 20 emerging! It was an amazing sight to see. Afterwards we went back to the WIFI room to watch the loggerhead presentation by our intern, Skyler. After the presentation, we did not have to walk very far and there was a nesting sea turtle near a campground access. We waited until she was in her "trance" and was laying her eggs. We got to see her laying her eggs and begin to cover. We headed back before she finished as lightning was starting to get uncomfortably close. However, we an amazing turtle show already!
The following morning our intern, Jill and our volunteer, Nona, found three nests that had emerged last night and the one new nest! So the nest we saw last night is marked as nest #103 on our state park beach. If you would like to adopt this nest, click on the button below to be taken to our adoption page. The unique ID for this nest is: 233127. Part of the proceeds from nest adoptions goes back to our EBSP turtle program. See below for a few pictures taken on morning patrol!
Blog Post By: Skyler Klingshirn (Summer Sea Turtle Intern)
Growing up, I have always been fascinated with the ocean. I was always jealous of the scuba divers I would see on tv who were able to get close to large marine animals. However, growing up in Ohio, becoming one of those scuba divers seemed like an unreachable task. There were classes available, but they were completed in a pool setting or in freshwater lakes and quarries. While these settings can still be beautiful, I wanted to dive in the ocean. When I was living in North Carolina last spring, I debated trying to complete my certification then, but I was extremely busy with my classes and other obligations. Last summer, when I was living in Florida, I also tried to look into classes, but again, I was super busy with work and my research project. It seemed there was never a convenient time to complete this certification and become a scuba diver.
When I accepted the position as a sea turtle intern for the summer here in Edisto, I immediately looked up where the closest dive shop was. I was able to find one up in Charleston only an hour away. I looked into the schedule for when they do their classes and found classes that only take up the span of one weekend. Finally, becoming certified to scuba dive was seeming like a more achievable task. When I arrived here in Edisto and received my schedule for the internship, I talked to Leah about the possibility of working around taking these classes. Luckily, we were able to create a schedule that allowed me to sign up for classes while still helping out at the park!
There are a couple different steps required to complete a scuba diving certification. There is a classroom portion where you read a book that tells you all the do’s and don’ts of scuba diving and teaches you everything you need to know. This is followed by a couple confined dives in a pool to practice necessary skills to safely scuba dive. The final step is to complete four open water dives where you improve your skills and get comfortable being an independent scuba diver.
I began my classes at the end of June where the first night was spent in a classroom learning about scuba diving gear, different rules that must be followed, and skills we will practice. My class was very small will only two other students which was nice. The next class was spent entirely in a pool getting us familiar with setting up our gear, breathing underwater, and swimming with our gear. It was super exciting being in full gear and being able to breath underwater for the first time. The third class was a combination of learning in the classroom to review important information and more time in the pool practicing skills like what to do if you run out of air, how to clear a foggy mask, and how to control our buoyancy. The last day of classes included practicing a few more skills and a final multiple-choice exam. While some of the skills we learned were a little tough, like learning how to remove, replace, and clear your mask all underwater, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt after a few, short days in the water.
I was then able to complete my first two checkout dives at the beginning of July. These were done at Trophy Lake up in Charleston. This area is a man-made lake that goes down about 20 feet, which is the deepest I have ever been. While this is a freshwater lake with very few fish to see, I was still excited to get out and practice my scuba diving skills. On our first dive, we practiced clearing our masks underwater, getting in and out of our gear, and some other basic skills. We ended the dive with a little swim around the lake to get a feel for how an actual dive is done. Unfortunately, the visibility was not great, so I did not see anything. On the second dive, we practiced navigating underwater and again, went for a “mini-dive” throughout the lake.
In a few days, I will be completing my last two checkout dives. These two dives will be completed an hour and a half offshore and we will be diving down 60 feet which is the deepest you can go with an open water diving certification. I am super excited to complete this certification and am hoping for good visibility and hopefully, lots of fish to see. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to complete this certification. This is something I have been wanting to accomplish for years and is something I am hoping to be able to use in a future career with marine science.
Our intern, Jill, led the presentation and the walk on Tuesday evening. It was a beautiful night with the moon lighting our way on the beach. We checked the possible nests due to hatch and were eagerly looking for new adult turtle tracks from the ocean. Unfortunately, last night was not a night for turtle activity as none was seen on our walk and no new activity was recorded the following morning. We only have three night walks left of the season, if you would like to sign up for one of the last programs be sure to call our Environmental Learning Center for more information and to see if spots are still available!
We finally made it to nest 100 on Monday morning! See below for pictures of our intern Jill and our volunteer Bill, in front of our new nest.
We had another intern-led night walk by Skyler! She did a great job presenting to our full house of night walk participants. Unfortunately, no turtles were seen on our night walk. The following morning there was one nest that had emerged (nest #16) but no other turtle activity, so our chances were slim on seeing turtles. It was still a beautiful walk at night with the moon lighting up our way!
Blog Post By: Jillian Sower, summer sea turtle intern
Trends come and go, but they aren’t limited to just fashion or fun café drinks. There’s a new one taking beaches by storm, and it’s called ghost crabbing, or ghost crab hunting, and it can potentially cause harm to sea turtle mothers and hatchlings.
Ghost crabbing involves wandering the beach at night with bright flashlights and nets in an attempt to stun and capture ghost crabs. The game is very popular with both kids and adults; during our Night Walk program, on multiple occasions, we’ve come across groups of people with bright white lights combing the beach in order to find ghost crabs.
Now as we know, white lights can cause false crawls in our nesting sea turtles, which is when a turtle crawls up on the beach intending to nest, but for some reason (such as bright white lights) she turns around and goes back to the ocean. A turtle can false crawl a couple times and still be okay, but if she crawls too many times she’ll dump her entire clutch in the ocean. Since sea turtles have a very low natural rate of reaching adulthood (about 1 in 1,000) we want every turtle to be able to nest successfully.
Bright white lights also cause confusion and disorientation in hatchlings. When they hatch, they use the brightest point, which should be the horizon, to guide them to the ocean. However, when bright lights are present on the beach, they become the brightest source of light, and the hatchlings crawl towards them instead of the ocean. When this happens, the hatchlings use up the valuable energy sources they need to swim to the Sargasso Sea.
Not only could the bright lights used in this activity cause these problems for our sea turtles, but it’s also highly invasive for the ghost crabs. Think about it: would you want bright lights shined in your eyes, and be so stunned that you can’t move, only to be scooped up in a net?
This activity has the potential to cause harm to our nesting and hatching sea turtle populations. We try to educate those whom we meet during our night walks and to encourage them to use red lights. Other islands along South Carolina’s coast have been experiencing large numbers of people playing this game on their beaches. You can read more about Kiawah Island’s experience here, https://www.postandcourier.com/news/how-kids-toys-could-be-latest-threat-to-south-carolina/article_87b6e022-78a2-11e8-ae28-4f79f7baebe1.html.
Hopefully the ghost crabbing trend blows over quickly, for the safety of our sea turtles, and for the overall respect for our wildlife.
We had another intern-led night walk by our intern, Jill! We were nervous about the weather as it was very threatening but it ended up staying clear of us and we were able to walk the beach. Unfortunately, we did not see any turtle activity but we still had a nice night walk on the beach.
The following morning there were only two false crawls found and one nest that had hatched. Also in the morning, two nest inventories were conducted on nests that had hatched three days prior. In one of the nests, there were seven hatchlings found down in the egg chamber. They were able to release them and let them crawl to the ocean. The one hatchling you can see is lighter in coloration compared to the others - must have a pigment mutation of some sort! Nature is pretty neat!
This morning I was on patrol with Sherry and Sherri! We found two new nests and one false crawl. We also attempted to inventory nest 3 but there were a few hatchlings near the surface so we recovered in the hopes they will come out naturally at night.
See below for some pictures from this morning! Hopefully we will reach nest 100 - stay tuned!
We had our first intern-led night walk last night! Skyler did a great job of presenting about our loggerhead sea turtles and then walked ahead of the group to look for hatchlings and new nesting activity. Unfortunately, we did not see turtle activity last night but we still had a beautiful night to walk. By the time we checked on nest 5, which was by the inlet, it had already emerged! The hatchlings left early compared to other night walks.
This morning on patrol we only found three false crawls, so our chances of seeing a turtle were slim. We also conducted an inventory of nest 6, that hatched three days prior. It had a great success rate and two hatchlings were found stuck in the nest, so we were able to release them. See below for pictures taken by our volunteer, Iddy!
What a morning...it was filled with tears and frustration.
I was notified that there were hatchling tracks near the Finn's restaurant building by my intern, Skyler, and volunteer Lea. However, there wasn't a nest nearby that was due to hatch. Arriving at the corner of Palmetto Blvd. I found hatchling tracks on the sand in the direction of the 24hr. gas station.
I did not find any hatchlings crushed on the road but instead I found two hatchlings trapped down in a storm drain. I was unable to locate the other 8 tracks that were found disorientated. For the two in the drain, they were thankfully in reaching distance. If I did not get these hatchlings out they would have died of exhaustion and heat. However, their chances are slim even with my help as they exhausted most of their energy needed for their two-day swim to the Sargasso Sea, an area where they live for the first 10 years of their life.
Hatchlings have a chance of 1 in a 1000 of reaching adulthood. It is so important that each hatchling makes their way to the ocean in the most direct path to increase their chances.
Please join me in trying to bring change for our sea turtles! Like this video and SHARE it to get the word out! If we all work together we can make a big difference.
Wow, what a night walk! We were able to witness nest #3 "boil" with many hatchlings emerging to make their way to the ocean. Unfortunately some of the hatchlings started to disorient but myself and our volunteers were able to redirect them.
Then after a little bit of a walk down the beach I came across a sea turtle emerging from the ocean. We waited patiently as she took her time digging her egg chamber but the wait was worth it! We got to see her lay her eggs, cover the chamber and then crawl back to the ocean. The nesting turtle we saw during our night walk marks nest #90 on our beach! We found 6 new nests in the morning, bringing our total to 93! If you would like to adopt the nest we saw last night, click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The Unique ID for nest #90 is: 231343. Part of the proceeds from the adoption goes back to our EBSP turtle patrol program. See below for pictures from the morning patrol!
We had a successful night walk for seeing hatchlings! I checked on nest 4, that had hatched the night before. Sometimes there are straggler hatchlings that come out the following night and sure enough there were 10 hatchlings that crawled out of the sand and to the ocean. We were already off to a great start! On our way to the inlet we saw a false crawl tracks but no sea turtle. At the very end of the inlet I saw a nest (marked as #87)! The turtle had already finished nesting though and made her way back to the ocean. On our way back we checked the possible nests that could hatch, one more time. At nest 2 there were many little hatchling heads emerging from the sand! We timed it perfectly to watch nest 2 "boil" and crawl to the ocean. It was such a great night walk! The following morning, Jill, Nona and Linda found two nests and two false crawls. The only nest to hatch last night was nest 2. See below for pictures from morning patrol! If you would like to adopt either of the two new nests, click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The Unique ID's for nests #86 and #87 are: 230829 & 230833. The proceeds from the nest adoption help to support our EBSP turtle patrol program.
We have some super exciting turtle news to share. Our nest #1 and nest #4 hatched last night. As you can see by all the hatchling tracks, the nests seem very successful!
We had a dark night with a wonderful view of the stars! We saw many shooting stars that we wished upon but unfortunately, we did not get the chance to see a nesting sea turtle. When we were almost back to the white building I came across a set of incoming and outgoing tracks. When I walked up above the high tide mark I saw a body pit! This turtle must have crawled ashore shortly after we passed by to walk to the inlet. This turtle was a sneaky one! This morning there was only one nest found and still no hatchling activity. See below for pictures taken from the patrol.
Blog Post By: Skyler Klingshirn (summer sea turtle intern)
Plastic pollution is becoming an increasing problem all around the world. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. Clearly this is a very startling statistic. While it is important to recycle, in 2014 only about 10% of discarded plastic was actually recycled in America and with how much plastic we use in our day to day lives, we are now at the point where more needs to be done. I am especially passionate about reducing my own plastic use because I have seen on multiple beaches and areas all the single use plastic and waste that gets left behind to pollute our ocean. Recently, I have started making simple changes in my life to try to reduce my use of plastic as much as possible and I am going to share 7 simple switches you can make too!
2. To-Go Ware
Single-use plastic silverware is one of the top 10 finds of trash by the Ocean Conservancy. A lot of times when we’re in a rush, we need to stop by the store or a fast food restaurant to pick up a snack, however, with the convenience of fast food comes single-use silverware. To avoid this problem, I keep a pack of To-Go Ware in my car or attached to my keys whenever I am out running errands. To-Go Ware includes a bamboo fork, spoon, knife, and set of chopsticks in a little case that makes it easy to take with you anywhere that can be washed when you get back home to be used again.
4. Reusable Produce Bags
This is a switch I just recently made. Every time we go to the grocery store, we place our produce in thin plastic bags to go home, put away our fruits and vegetables then just discard the bags. I felt this was very wasteful, so I switched to reusable produce bags I found online. They are made of mesh with a drawstring, machine washable, and were inexpensive. I now just keep them in my reusable grocery bags, so I have them with me when I go to the store.
5. Reusable Snack Bags
I love the convenience of plastic Ziploc baggies, but I hate how, again, we use them one time and then they are thrown away. I often use Tupperware containers to carry snacks, but sometimes I only need a small bag and do not want to use bulky containers. Like many of my reusable items, I went online and found reusable snack bags that are freezer safe, dishwasher safe, and prevent you from constantly having to buy more plastic baggies. I now have a couple that I am able to use to bring snacks with me to work and I was even able to use one as a waterproof bag to hold my phone while out kayaking one day.
7. Buying foods without packaging
If you go into any supermarket, it is obvious how much waste there is just in the packaging our favorite foods come in. While there are some items packaged in plastic that cannot be avoided, it is possible to try and shop smarter. For example, a few weeks ago I went to Bi Lo for groceries. I was planning on picking up a pineapple, however, when I walked back to the produce section, the only pineapple they had was precut and packaged in plastic containers. At first, I was upset because I was looking forward to enjoying one of my favorite fruits after the store but did not want to contribute to unnecessary plastic waste. I searched around some more and found many other fruits that were not packaged and settled for a couple mangoes and kiwis. I had only had mango a few times before this trip, but figured it would be a suitable replacement for the pineapple and I now have a new favorite fruit. While that is just one simple example, trying out different foods that have no packaging or less packaging than your normal go-to foods is a great way to reduce waste and even discover some new favorite foods!
While switching to no plastic right away can seem like an impossible task, just making a couple swaps here and there can add up to make a big difference. In today’s world, every little bit helps and hopefully you all are able to give some of these a try!
We had a great walk on the beach on Saturday but unfortunately the turtles waited until later to start nesting. There were six new nests and one false crawl found on Sunday morning, marking #76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81! Too bad one of those turtles did not come out to nest earlier. See below for pictures of the new nests. If you would like to adopt one of the new nests, click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The Unique ID for the nests are: 230230, 230231, 230232, 230233, 230235 & 230236. Part of the proceeds goes back to our EBSP Turtle Project.
We had a starry night for our walk on Thursday, with shooting stars, milky way, planets and satellites seen but no turtles. The following morning we only found two false crawls. See the pictures of the false crawls below. As you can see, there was no body pit created by the turtles. There were a few areas where it looked like they tested the sand but ultimately they abandoned it.
We had a beautiful night during our program on Tuesday! Unfortunately, no turtle activity was seen even with those wishes on the shooting stars!
The following morning there were two nests found, nest #69 & #70. If you would like to adopt one of those nests, click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The unique ID's for those nests are: 228946 & 228947. The proceeds from the nest adoptions help to support our EBSP Turtle Program. See below for pictures taken by our volunteer, Lea, of the two new nests!
Check out the YouTube video below from the first sea turtle release of the summer! Miss Murtle and Leah had company from a new friend, baby leatherbass. It was such an exciting time!
We had another successful night walk on Saturday! We walked all the way to the inlet without any turtle sightings. Then as I was walking around the inlet to check for activity I saw a turtle emerging from the surf in the distance. After waiting for a minute or two, I realized she had turned and was headed back! Unfortunately, she was too quick and the group just missed seeing her.
However, close to the white office building there was a sea turtle nesting! She was already laying her eggs so we got to see her right away and watch her cover. Then we watched as she headed back to the ocean. It is always an amazing sight to see! Also as she finished nesting at midnight, she was our Canada Day turtle (as our independence day is July 1st), pretty neat, eh?
The following morning I was on patrol with our volunteer, Ray, and our DNR Coordinator, Kacie. We found two new nests and two false crawls. The nest we saw on our night walk is nest #67 on our state park beach. If you would like to adopt this nest then click on the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The unique ID for this nest is: 228209. Part of the proceeds from adopting the nest goes directly to our EBSP turtle program.
See below for pictures of nest 67 taken by our new Interpretive Ranger, Sam.
The club cart shown in these photographs is our new turtle cart for our program! We are so excited to have a more reliable vehicle for turtle patrol!
Sea Turtle Biologist