As the 2012 sea turtle nesting ended, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that approximately 4,623 sea turtle nests were laid on beaches that are monitored. In addition to nesting by the loggerhead sea turtle, there were three green sea turtle nests and four leatherback nests.
DNR documented 4,011 nests for the 2011 season. Hurricane Irene passed the beaches of South Carolina in late August of that year. While the majority of South Carolina residents were not severely affected by the storm, the sea turtle nests that were still incubating were significantly affected.
The DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program is also participating in a multi-state project along with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the North Carolina Wildlife and Resources Commission and the University of Georgia to answer several basic loggerhead sea turtle nesting questions. The answers to these questions will help biologists better understand how the loggerhead population is doing. Currently, the actual number of loggerhead sea turtles that nest in South Carolina is not known. We will use DNA genetic fingerprinting (CSI for sea turtles) to identify individual loggerhead nesting females. This information will provide a census of the actual nesting population. This year (2012) marks year three of this project. To date, 5,414 individual nesting loggerheads have been identified.
The DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program is responsible for managing and protecting sea turtles in the state of South Carolina. The program has several all-encompassing components: management, monitoring, research, and education. More specifically, this program implements management techniques to mitigate activities that may impact sea turtles and provides training and support to over 30 projects and 1100 volunteers across the coast who protect nests and document sea turtles that wash ashore (strandings). DNR staff members also perform necropsies on fresh dead strandings and respond to live strandings in need of care.
Please help support the DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program:
- Donate (tax deductible) directly to the program. Donations can be sent to SCDNR Sea Turtle Program, PO Box 12559 Charleston, SC 29412
- Purchase the new Endangered Species License Plate
- Check-Off for Wildlife when completing your tax returns. Help SCDNR keep wildlife in your life by checking off your contribution to the Endangered Wildlife fund during the tax season.
- Adopt-A-Nest: Adopt a sea turtle nest in South Carolina
DNR invites the public to read about marine turtle news in the 2012 issue of Loggerheadlines (Pdf file) and on our website. The new site provides the latest information about the management and monitoring of turtles, information for volunteers and more. There is even a photo gallery with pictures of turtles returning to the ocean, hatchlings and nest sites.
Image courtesy South Carolina Department of Natural Resources