It's the time of year in South Carolina when the sea turtles leave the water to lumber up the beach and lay their eggs, in more than 6600 nests last year. These dinosaurs of the deep are amazing creatures and we are so lucky to get to witness some of their activity.
Grown loggerhead turtles weigh between
155 and 350 lbs and their shells are 2.5 - 3.5 feet long.
They are graceful swimmers in the water, but the trek up the beach through the sand to find a nesting site is exhausting and treacherous.
They are on the Threatened Species list in the U.S.,
mainly because their nesting habitat has been severely reduced by building on the coastal areas and beaches.
(Turtle photo from the Charleston Aquarium).
Local volunteer organizations assist the Department of Natural Resources in identifying and caring for the turtle nests. The organization in our area is called S.C.U.T.E. (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts), pronounced "scoot". Volunteers walk the 60 miles of our beaches every morning looking for nests.
In this photo from the beach yesterday, you can see the crawl, the track the female made coming up the beach and back to the water. The volunteer on the ground is counting and removing eggs to move them to a higher spot up the dunes so they won't be washed away by a tide.
A nest contains an average of 120 eggs and a female nests 3-4 times in a season.
A false crawl, below, occurs when the turtle decides it's not good place for her eggs or something frightens her and she returns to the sea without laying eggs.
There are quite a few more false crawls on the beach than nests.
A piece of strong mesh is placed over the nest to prevent predators from digging and the nest is cordoned off.
Incubation is 55-60 days. A successful hatch is about 65%.
I hope I'll be back in a month or so to show you some hatchlings.