This year, we have had the highest number of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) nest on Edisto Beach State Park. We are already over 200 nests and the season is not over yet. Last year was the record year with 178 nests in total for EBSP. Other loggerhead nesting sites, such as Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, SC, are also having a record number of nests. Last year, Cape Romain NWR reached 1,929 nests. As of July 11, they have 1,938 nests. So now the big question is why. Why so many turtles this year? During 1977, all sea turtles were put under the Endangered Species Act (NOAA Fisheries 2016). Under the protection of the ESA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working with the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service to help conserve and protect loggerheads and their nests (NOAA Fisheries 2016). It’s been 39 years since the start of sea turtle conservation. It takes about 30 years for loggerhead sea turtles to reach sexual maturity, when they can produce eggs and mate. A very possible reason for the sudden boom in loggerhead nests this year and last year is because the hatchlings from the nests that were first protected in 1977 are now old enough to reproduce and nest. Hopefully with our continued conservation practices, we will continue to see a rise in the number of sea turtles!
Post By: Nicole Lynch, Sea Turtle Intern.
Sea Turtle Biologist