By Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol for The Island Connection
The first loggerhead sea turtle nest laid in South Carolina in 2021 has hatched! A bit shy and a little groggy, the first loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings on Seabrook Island this year emerged after 68 days of incubation and made their way towards the water. Just four scouts were observed braving the beach on the night of Sunday, June 11, but scores more came out the next night, and the remaining hatchlings in this nest should emerge over the next few nights.
Once the babies have had time to clear out of the nest naturally, the Turtle Patrol will do a nest inventory to determine the nest’s hatch success rate to report to the DNR, and they will help any hatchlings left in the nest to the water. Turtle Patrol inventories will not be announced publicly this year so as not to attract large crowds given ongoing CDC recommendations related to COVID-19. If you see the Turtle Patrol on the beach doing an inventory, you are welcome to watch at the walkway that will be set up near the water. We ask that you do your best to maintain social distance from other beachgoers. Please do not approach the volunteers that are working on the nest itself. If there are babies, they will be transported to the walkway to make their trek to the water. As of this writing, there are 68 loggerhead sea turtle nests on Seabrook Island and counting. This number has already surpassed last season’s total and represents an above-average nesting season for the island. The current nests contain approximately 8,000 eggs! While this may sound like a huge number, very few sea turtle hatchlings actually survive to adulthood. Estimates vary, but it is generally agreed that a nesting female must lay at least 1,000 eggs to result in a single mature adult turtle. This is one of the reasons it’s important to protect both existing nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings from the relatively new pressures they experience from activity on and around our coastlines.
Over the next several weeks, nesting and hatching activities will overlap for our loggerheads until nesting tails off in August. Patrol members are so excited to see the first successful hatchlings of the 2021 season and you can continue to follow along with the patrol’s work through our website, siturtlepatrol.com, and our social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.