Sea turtle nesting numbers high...good news for Loggerheads

Turtle hatchling from Botany Bay Plantation making it to the water (Brandon Geier/WCIV)

By Sonya

EDISTO ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Loggerhead sea turtles are endangered species, but this year's nesting numbers are high.{} In fact, this is the third year in a row that there have been high nest numbers.

The increase in nesting numbers is expected to be because of nest management, which was started back in the early 80s.

"Nest management basically means that you go out onto the beach, you find a nest, you mark the nest with stakes, and then you protect it," said DuBose Griffin, who is the Department of Natural Resource's Sea Turtle Coordinator.

One of the most popular beaches in South Carolina that turtles like to nest on is Botany Bay Plantation. Chris Salmonsen is a seasonal biologist for the DNR and his job is to take care of the nests down there.

"This are hopefully raccoon proof cageswe just buried them down as far as we could," said Chris Salmonsen.

The nests also have to be protected from erosion, which means moving them to higher ground.

"What you do is end up increasing the success of the nest from about 10% to about 70%, so if you think about that in the context if there is a hundred eggs down in the nest instead of only ten eggs hatching you get 70 eggs hatching," said Griffin.

Salmonsen is out seven days a week taking inventory of the nests.

"We are looking at the difference between hatched eggsI'll make two piles out of themthose have hatched and that one didn't not hatch and will not hatch," said Salmonsen. "This is about typical if we get 75 percent, that's about average."

Sometimes he finds hatchlings that are ready to go, but hadn't made it out of the nest quite yet.

"Seems like they are about ready to go, just let them go and let them do our walk," said Salmonsen.

Salmonsen says it's all about seeing the little hatchling, especially when there are kids around and they have never seen turtles before.

These adorable hatchlings are a reminder that we must help protect the turtles.

"On every beach in the state, we pretty much have a lighting ordinance that requires residents to keep lights out for Loggerheads," said Griffin.

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