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!
Sea Turtle Specialist