Turtle Patrol Report May 19-27

This week has been filled with false crawls, storms, beautiful sunrises, and some very high tides. We also have 2 new nests, bringing our total to 3 for the 2023 season.

May 19, 2023
One of the wonderful things about our beach is the never-ending variation we see. The beach seems to change every day we go out. Unfortunately, with the high tides we’ve had with the new moon, storms, and erosion in places, the bird nesting area on North beach was completely washed over. A total of 5 bird signs have been retrieved, one of which was way down by Boardwalk 5. The tides came perilously close to Nest 1 that was laid on Mother’s Day but due to the foresight of Valerie and Mark Doane, it had been relocated to a spot that was high enough to prevent it from being washed over.

The wildlife we have on Seabrook Island is truly a treasure and everyone is aware of the ubiquitous presence of alligators but we now have photographic evidence of a croc nesting in the wrack on the beach here.

May 20, 2023
The mommas visited us during the night but didn’t find any suitable nesting sites. Three obvious false crawls were found. The first false crawl was found close to boardwalk 6. The determined turtle walked along the rocks before returning to the sea. This false crawl was soon lost to the sea and would have been missed if the walkers had gone out any later. Two more false crawls were found on the beach in front of Camp Saint Christopher.

May 21, 2023
No new nests but the crew walking between Boardwalk 6 and Boardwalk 1 had an interesting morning. A momma came in and walked along the rocks just north of Boardwalk 6 before returning to the water. This was the first false crawl of the day. When the walkers returned along the route, they found another in-and-out crawl at the tide line that wasn’t there when they made their first pass. Maybe the same momma was playing a game with our walkers?

Nest #2 – May 22, 2023
Joleen Ardaiolo and Tobie McMahon were the lucky walkers to find the crawl on the beach in front of Camp Saint Christopher just short of the kayak shed. Pictured are walkers Joleen and Tobie with JoAnne Lewis who assisted with the nest. The nest was left in situ.

We also had 3 obvious false crawls. One momma tried hard to find a spot but the rocks were in the way and the other two were halfhearted, in and out, crawls near the incoming tide.

May 23, 2023
Quiet morning with fast incoming tides. Good to know that nests 1 and 2 are secure and safe above the high tide line.

May 24, 2023
It was a gloriously cool morning, and the tide was low enough that all areas of the beach were easily accessed. Two turtle mommas must have wanted to enjoy the night air as we had two crawls, but both were just in and out with nothing to show for their trouble.

May 25, 2023
Another morning with no new crawls but the Camp Saint Christopher beach did have some excitement. The walkers found 29 dug up egg shells in the dunes about south of the dead trees. Judy Morr and I checked out the damage and determined it was the remains of an old nest that had hatched (or boiled) and been inventoried a year or more ago. While it was obvious raccoons were the culprits, we have no idea what attracted them to this unfruitful location.

Nest #3 –May 26, 2023
Every walker remembers their first nest but lucky first year walkers Brandy Embrey, Mollie Korski, Laura Wendling, David Williams and Lori Chait actually saw the momma laying that first nest. The momma was finishing up her nest when the walkers arrived. After carefully covering her eggs, she began the long crawl back to the ocean, happily followed by the walkers, including veterans Sandy MacCoss and Jane Magioncalda.

This large and experienced Turtle left 146 eggs. Nest # 3 was relocated to higher ground south of Boardwalk 2. Videos of the turtle’s return to the sea are included below so we can all experience some of this joyful event.

Not much else to report other than a pelican meeting with the addition of a shrimp boat near the point of Camp Saint Christopher.

May 27, 2023
We had high hopes that the rain would bring the momma turtles on shore to nest but the efforts of our intrepid turtlers were for naught. We did have one potential crawl but after being checked out by a few of our experienced crew it became apparent the disturbance was not created by a turtle. Special thanks to Sandy MacCoss and Nancy Chomel who braved the cold and rain with me to check out the disturbance and to the walking crews that braved the weather. The photo of The Gores and the Millers shows how cheerful we remain under adverse circumstances and the pelican photo, taken by Marnie Ellis with J-Anna Smith, shows the weather really was for the birds! No shrimp boat in this morning’s picture.

-Submitted by Anne Snelgrove, Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol

(Image credits: Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol)