Dozens of tracks leading across the beach to the ocean have been discovered on Kiawah Island. Bioligists confirm this is the first sea turtle nest to hatch in our state. This means hatching season has begun! It also means you can help these little hatchling sea turtles by keeping your lights out on the beach.
As sea turtles hatch they are naturally drawn to the lights reflected on the ocean. But, when an artificial light source on the beach is brighter than that of the ocean, they become disoriented and head the wrong way. Rather than heading into the ocean they may head toward the artifical light source. This makes them extremely vulnerable to predators and exhaustion.
You can help by turning off all beach-facing lights, closing blinds and drapes on windows that face the ocean and avoid using flashlights and flash photography on the beach from dawn to dusk.
For about two more months, female sea turtles will continue to nest on South Carolina beaches.
Sea Turtle Nesting Reminders from SCDNR
- Report all sick/injured/dead sea turtles and nest disturbances to the SCDNR at 1-800-922-5431 so that staff/volunteers can respond as soon as possible.
- Respect boating laws and boat cautiously, especially in small tidal creeks where sea turtles like to feed. Boat strikes have emerged as the leading cause of death for sea turtles in South Carolina.
- Keep artificial lights off the beach at night during nesting season – this includes beachfront property lights and flash photography, which can disorient nesting mothers and hatchlings.
- Always respect sea turtles by observing them from a distance on the beach. Individuals that violate federal law by harming or interfering with sea turtles or their nests can be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000 and up to a year’s imprisonment.
- Keep our beaches and ocean clean by avoiding single-use plastics. Plastic bags and balloons are among the most common trash items found on South Carolina beaches and can cause injury or death when sea turtles mistake them for food.
- Promote and support our program for continued conservation of sea turtles in South Carolina.