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Sea turtles make comeback along Edisto coastline

Sea turtles and their nesting numbers have not been negatively impacted by this year’s hurricane season, particularly that of the impact from the recent Hurricane Florence.
According to Charlotte Hope, director of the sea turtle nesting program for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, no nests were lost at Edisto Beach during Hurricane Florence. This hurricane hit the coast of North Carolina on September 14th, but Edisto and other beaches in neighboring northern counties, such as Horry County, experienced higher-than-normal tides.
Hope also works with the volunteer program at Edisto Beach. This program works to secure sea turtle nests that are found on the beach. Additionally, volunteers with the group also count nests, help to enforce the town’s rules that encourage sea turtles to nest. These rules include the “lights out” ordinance for all beachfront houses. The town’s leaders also ask that beachgoers remove all toys from the beach at the end of their day: toys left on the beach can inhibit turtles from moving freely along the sand, according to town leaders.
During this year’s sea turtle nesting season, Hope says that two turtle nests are still incubating along the beach that is in the jurisdiction of the Town of Edisto Beach. There are nine nests currently still incubating on the beach in front of Edisto Beach State Park.
This year, one nest was lost during a high tide that occurred near the state park, she said.
“We did have a low-nesting year this year, but that’s normal,” said Hope, who is based out of the Charleston S.C. DNR office.
Officials with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources predicted in May that there would be a low sea turtle-nesting season in South Carolina. This was attributed to colder-than-average sea temperatures from the frigid winter months earlier this year.
“We are about half the number of nests we where last year, this time,” she said.
To date, the sea turtle season has brought 109 nests that were found along the Edisto Beach State Park beachfront. Additionally, 114 nests were discovered and secured along Edisto Beach, according to Hope.
“Edisto actually did not see a drop that our other beaches did, in the number of hatchlings,” she said.
The SCDNR sponsors a real-time program that follows sea turtle nests and hatchlings. This can be found at https://www.dnr.sc-gov/seaturtle.gov.
According to SCDNR, sea turtles are among the largest reptiles in the world and inhabit almost every ocean. The loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green and leatherback sea turtles are found along the waters of South Carolina during nesting season, which lasts from May through October.

Heather Walters (1403 Posts)