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.
Sea Turtle Biologist