As you may know, when a loggerhead nest is found, one egg is sacrificed to get its DNA. The shell membrane contains the DNA of the mother turtle and that, along with the shell, is sent in an alcohol solution to DNR for testing. This test will tell us where the mama has been before and how many times she has laid nests. Female turtles are about 25 – 30 years old when they lay their first nest and can be as old as 50 – 60. Loggerheads lay 4 to 7 nests per season, typically about 14 days apart. They nest for a season then take a year or two off before they begin the cycle again.
Judy Morr periodically analyzes DNA data on seaturtle.org to provide us with some insight on those nesting on Seabrook Island. The following is her most recent report:
- The mama for Nest 5 previously nested in 2013 at Cape Lookout in the Outer Banks.
- Our favorite mama, CC000530 is back! She has laid Nests 1 and 12 this year. So far she has been identified as mama for 19 nests with 17 being on Seabrook and the others on Kiawah.
- Nest 2 was also returning mama CC002058 who has laid 11 nests with 10 on Seabrook and the other on Kiawah.
- Nest 3 is a new mama to Seabrook but she has laid 8 previous nests in prior years on Wassaw, Hunting Island State Park, Kiawah and Edingsville Beach.
- Nest 4 took a long break since her only other nest was in 2012 on Folly.
- Nest 6 was returning mama CC000570 who has laid 14 nests, the last 9 on Seabrook after laying her earlier ones all on Kiawah.
- Nest 10 mama who briefly hid her nest from us, has since laid a nest on Lighthouse Island. In 2013 she laid one nest on Fripp.
- Nest 8 was CC002043’s ninth nest, with the last 3 being on Seabrook. Prior to that she laid on Hunting Island, Kiawah and Pritchard
- Nest 9 mama CC006469 had two prior nests in 2013 on Folly and Kiawah.
- Nest 14 mama CC005131 has 5 nests, all on Seabrook. The other 4 were in 2012.
- Nest 15 mama CC002055 has laid 9 nests with the last two being on Seabrook after laying her earlier ones (in 2011 and 2013) on Kiawah.
- Nest 16 mama CC004832 laid 6 prior nests in 2012 on Pritchard, Wassaw, then 4 on Botany Bay.
The above identified mamas means that only 3 (7, 11 and 13) of our first 16 nests were potentially laid by first time mamas.
Now to our weekly summary:
Monday, July 25 – Zone 1: Kathy and Ron Chamberlain with Nancy Shenton reported a crawl with multiple body pits at the last building for Camp St. Christopher. Bill Nelson responded and found Nest #58. Nest #12 also had more tracks from it and is scheduled for inventory tomorrow.
Zone 2: Nests 9 and Nest 16 boiled with indentations on 13, 18 and 20. Nest 13 had boiled on Friday and no additional tracks were seen.
Zone 3: Nothing new to report. Crab holes on nests 14 and 50.
Zone 4: Nest #15 had more tracks out of it (previously reported as boiled on Saturday). Nest #22 is starting to get sand build up so PHAT needs to monitor carefully. Nest #48 has lots of crab tracks.
Nest # 3 was found by Alison Bowers, Tory Kindley, Pat and Bob Derajtys and Sandy MacCoss. It hatched in 62 days. There were 60 eggs in the nest.
Shells 56 Hatch & emergence success 91.8%
Unhatched eggs 4
Dead hatchlings 0
Live hatchlings 0
Total live 56
Good Nest 🐢😊
Tuesday,July 26 – Zone 1 found an older crawl at the end of the beach at Privateer Creek. Judy Morr pink flagged it.
Zone 2 – found 8 dead hatchlings on nest #18 who were buried near the surf where the tide will wash them out. There were tracks out of #9 and #16
Zone 3 – #17 was concave but no tracks. #14 needed stake work which we did after the inventories
Zone 4 – #15 had 4 more tracks and #22 had a large indentation. See photo attached.
Nest #12 was found by Beth Henry, Stephanie Lea and Patrica Bisceglia. It was in situ .
We opened the nest and found eggs and 10 shells and more eggs. We closed the nest and will let it hatch out. It was not ready to boil at 52 days.
Zone 1 walkers please watch #12 carefully and report any activity.
Nest #13 was found by Lucy Hoover and Tracy Thorne. It hatched in 55 days.There were 104 eggs in the nest.
Shells 97 Hatch success 92.3%
Unhatched eggs 7 Emergence success 87.6%
Dead hatchlings 1
Live hatchlings 4
Total live 96
Wednesday, July 27 – Zone 1:No activity on # 12,10 or 11, # 44, 46, 58, 24, 47 looked good. Broken shell fell down the bank on # 41. No tracks or holes.
Zone 2: # 9 crater, # 18 hole and flies, # 21 big indentation. # 16 large hole. # 36 deer tracks over nest.
Zone 3: Crawl south of vehicle entrance which Judy Moor and Tim Morawski probed. It is false. # 17 had 8 hatchlings tracks. There is a lot of grass at # 37.
Zone 4 had indentations and lots of crab tracks everywhere.
Nest # 15 was found by Sandy MacCoss, ToryKindley, Pat and Bob Derajtys. There were 144 eggs in the nest and it hatched in 54 days.
Shells 125 Hatch success today 96.4%
Unhatched eggs 19 4 back in the nest
Dead hatchlings 3 Emergence success 90.1%
Live hatchlings 4
Total live today 122 it could change if any of the 4 eggs hatch. We will check in 3 days.
Thursday, July 28 – Zone 1: No activity. The walkers specifically looked at nests 10. 11, and 12 hoping for some sign of activity but no luck.
Zone 2: Nest #18 had an indentation and a hole. #20 & #36 had an indentation.
Zone 3: A false crawl (in and out at the myrtles between boardwalks 2 and 3) and a dead baby in front of Nest #17. There was also a crawl going the wrong way from that nest that sadly ended at a crab hole.
Zone 4: A lot of crab activity and strange indentations at pink flag from 6/30 in the bird sanctuary area. Bill Middleton checked it out but still no nest to be found. The crabs may know something we can’t find. Nest #22 had boiled. 2 new tracks from Nest #15 which was inventoried yesterday but 4 eggs returned to the nest.
Nest #9 was found by Anne Hess, Pat Backstrom and Judy Morr. It was in situ and hatched in 59 days, It was over washed twice.
Shells 105 Hatch success 93.7%
Unhatched eggs 6 Emergence success 93.7%
Dead hatchlings 0
Live hatchlings 0
Total live 105
Nest #16 was sound by Anne Hess, Pat Backstrum and Judy Morr. It hatched in 52 days. There were 102 eggs in the nest
Shells 96 Hatch success 92.3%
Unhatched eggs 5 Emergence success 89.5%
Dead hatchlings 1
Live hatchlings 2
Total live 96
Friday, July 29 – Zone 1: lots of crab holes and trash but no new news.
Zone 2: No new activity, just lots of trash.
Zone 3: Large crab hole in nest #14. Obvious false crawl in the myrtles near boardwalk 4 (that’s 3 days in a row with false crawls on Zone 3. She needs to lay that nest!). Lots of sand castles and holes. Small crab hole in nest #19 which became small depression when filled in. Removed excess sand from Nest #50. Nest #29 needs to have the pegs knocked down.
Zone 4: More tracks from nest #22 with one unfortunate dead baby in the clutches of a ghost crab. Significant sand build up on nest #57.
Saturday – July 30 – Zone 1 – softened the sand on #10 and 11 and saw a dark colored shell in both. No activity on nest #12. They had more hatchlings out of the surf from Botany which they took to North Beach to get them on their way to the grasses.
Zone 2 – Nests #18 and 20 had crab holes near the tape over the nest but no hatchling tracks. #21 had a dozen tracks out of it.. #33 and 27 had slight depressions.
Zone 3 – #17 had an indentation Hammered pegs on nests in the hatchery area near walk # 4.
Zone 4 #57 had a lot of sand. The walkers took care of that. #15 had ants and nest #22 had more tracks out. We inventory the nest on Monday at 3:30.
Sunday, July 31 – It is the last day of July and there are no new crawls reported.
Zone 1 had a depression in nest #11 – Jen softened the sand in the nest yesterday,
Walkers on Pelican Beach about 9:00 helped 5 hatchlings into the water and saw 4 more swimming by. Some were in the area of nest #12 and others near #’s 10 and 11. Are they finally hatching out ? Monday zone 1 walkers please check it out!
Zone 2 had 7 to 10 hatchling tracks from Botany just north of boardwalk #9.
Zone 3 had a crab hole on #19. #42 had an indentation & #14 had a hole and tracks, one was a hatchling track. # 5 had a slit and #50 had crab holes
Zone 4 – #57 had sand built up again. #15 nothing. #48 crab tracks and ants. #22 indentation. and tracks, not sure which they were and could be old. The sand is really blowing out there.
Submitted by Gary Fansler, Beautsie Zahrn and Judy Morr