Turtle Patrol Report for July 29-August 4

We only had four new nests this week and they were all wild, or previously undiscovered. Now is when the hard work of our beautiful momma turtles is paying off. More and more nests are hatching and our Pre-Hatching Activity Team (PHAT) is going into overdrive. Special thanks to Marnie Ellis, J-Anna Smith and all of our PHAT members who have been going out every afternoon/evening to prepare our nests for the emergence of the hatchlings. It is often a Sisyphean task due to the winds we have been experiencing. The excess sand is removed and it just blows back. Without their hard work, we wouldn’t have the success rate that we have. Even though their job is important and sometimes difficult, they are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please remember to stay a safe distance from the nests and dunes if you approach the PHAT helpers with your questions. 

Inventories are conducted three days after a nest hatches and everyone is welcome to join us to learn more about these fascinating creatures. Education is provided and you might even get to see a real live turtle hatchling! Information about upcoming inventories can be found on Tidelines and the Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol website.

July 29 – Nests 75 through 77
Last Thursday Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol (SITP) officially achieved the goal of surpassing the second highest number of nests ever recorded on Seabrook of 76 nests. Today was literally and figuratively a wild day with three wild nests found bringing our yearly count to 77 nests.  

Walkers Jacquie and Patrick Weyers, Sandy MacCoss and Jane Magioncalda were initially approached by a visitor who had found a hatchling in the dunes just north of Boardwalk 6. He showed us the location and there was an obvious nest near a false crawl marker. This is now Nest 75! The walkers continued to examine the area and yet another hatchling emerged! Sandy then discovered Nest 76 as she explored the area and found four more hatchlings and another nest about 40 yards away. All 5 hatchlings were escorted to the ocean.

While our intrepid turtle team was managing the surprise nests near Boardwalk 6, eagle-eyed Ginger Seabrook, an off-duty turtle patroller who was riding her bike, saw lots of faint hatchling tracks entering the water near Boardwalk 2. The walkers followed them back to a false crawl sign next to the equestrian entrance and found the third wild nest of the day, Nest 77. 

July 30 – Nest 78 
One more wild nest brings our count to 78. Tony and Lesley Gore found Nest 78 about 100 yards north of peg 4 on North Beach. The nest opening was easily visible and the hatchling tracks went in all directions since the area is between the lagoon and the ocean.

July 31
We end the prolific month of July with no new or wild nests but a few hints of hatchlings and lots of blown sand. Unfortunately, an extremely large hole was left near Boardwalk 3. Beach patrol was notified and they are filling it in. These holes may be fun to create but they do pose a hazard to turtles and people when left on the beach.

Please fill in holes before leaving the beach.

Please remind your family, friends and guests of the importance of knocking down sand castles and filling in holes and removing your chairs and other paraphernalia.

With the beginning of August, our existing nests continue to awaken. Nests 16 and 33 have boiled and other nests are either showing indentations or some scout tracks. Crawls are now becoming few and far between but there is still a great amount of work that needs to be done to help these turtles continue to prosper here on Seabrook. An unnamed beachgoer reported finding a turtle hatchling emerging from a beach chair that had been left overnight. No casualties were found but this is an important reminder of the potential consequences of leaving stuff on the beach.

Duck egg?

August 3
While we had no new nests it’s obvious that the mamas are still nearby. There was a false crawl midway through the bird sanctuary on North Beach. Oddly enough, our walkers on the Camp Saint Christopher section of beach found what appears to be a random duck egg near one of the turtle nests. No explanation has been determined.

August 4
No news on turtles but it was certainly eventful today. The walkers going out Boardwalk 9 found this charming buck posing for this spectacular photograph.

Scott Smith freeing a gull.

Other walkers near the Club rescued an unhappy Laughing Gull that was stuck in the sand. Scott Smith dug it out, moved it to the dunes and called Birds of Prey.

-Submitted by Anne Snelgrove for SI Turtle Patrol