Welcome to DeBordieu & Hobcaw S.C.U.T.E.
S.C.U.T.E. is a volunteer organization under the direction of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. We are dedicated to the preservation of sea turtles along the South Carolina coast. Click below or scroll down to our view mission to learn more
How you Can Help
There are many ways you can help in the conservation of South Carolina sea turtles. Simply educating yourself is the most important contribution you can make
S.C.U.T.E. depends on our volunteers! We’re always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. If your interested in learning more then click below.
Meet the Crew
We work hard to ensure the safety of threatened loggerhead sea turtles along the South Carolina Coast. Meet some of the S.C.U.T.E. volunteers at DeBordieu & Hobcaw beaches to see what we do.
Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) nest on South Carolina beaches May through October. S.C.U.T.E., which stands for South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts, is one of 31 volunteer sea turtle protection projects along our coastline under the direction of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The 60 mile S.C.U.T.E. area stretches from North Inlet in Georgetown County to North Myrtle Beach in Horry County. DeBordieu and Hobcaw beaches typically account for 40-50% of the nests in this area.
Volunteers walk at sunrise during nesting season looking for the large turtle tracks leading from the ocean to the dunes and back. When tracks are found, clues are used to determine the nest area. Using pool cues or T bars, volunteers probe the sand to locate the soft area of the egg chamber. An average nest of 120 ping pong size eggs may need to be moved if the clutch is laid below the spring tide line or in the scarp of a dune. Nests are covered with a plastic mesh, staked to protect it from predators and a sign is posted with the nesting date.
At about 50 days of incubation, volunteers begin to look for a depression in the nest indicating hatching activity beneath. When a nest hatches, usually at about 55-60 days, hatchlings make a mad dash to the ocean following the phosphorescence of the waves as long as they are not lead astray by onshore lighting.
When a nest hatches, SCDNR requires us to wait 3 nights so as to give all hatchlings a chance to exit the nest. We then conduct a nest inventory and dig out the contents to determine the success of the nest. Inventory date, time and location are posted on the website. At the inventory, a volunteer tells visitors about the procedure and printed information is handed out. The nest contents are dug out and data is recorded. Sometimes live hatchlings are found in the nest that were not able to emerge on their own. Volunteers put the hatchlings on the beach and let them crawl to the ocean and ‘imprint’. At maturity, 25-30 years, female loggerheads will generally return to the beach of their birth to nest. However, recent DNA studies show some turtles will nest many miles from where they hatched.
Peace Sotheby’s International Realty kindly sponsors DeBordieu & Hobcaw S.C.U.T.E. Follow us here on the DeBordieu & Hobcaw S.C.U.T.E. website to stay informed with the latest news. You can also find links, references, photos and learn about the SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
Hobcaw: We have just one turtle consistently nesting on Hobcaw this season. This morning Martha, subbing for Brandie, found a beautiful crawl just south of #16mm! The tracks were even indicating the turtle visited on an incoming tide (high around 3:30 a.m.). Martha easily located the egg chamber and was able to leave the nest […]
Middle: Judy K. found a crawl north of Walkway #4 that came right up to the V of the sand fence. The tracks were even indicating the turtle came in on a rising tide. Judy probed the area, dug in a few places and found nothing. Betsy went to check on her, tried and nothing. […]
It has been a week since we last had a nest during this unusually slow turtle season. Today finally brought activity! Middle: Walter, joined by Jane this morning, found a crawl just north of Walkway #7. Jane is working toward certification and probed the body pit. She located a soft area and dug down to […]
North: Carolyn had Robert, a new volunteer, walking with her this morning. They found a classic crawl just north of #5mm in front of Ocean Park. Carolyn demonstrated the probing and digging technique and Robert got some good experience. Together, they located the egg chamber and were able to leave the nest natural, DEB14. […]
We have had an 8 day dry spell in what is normally the 2 week peak of loggerhead nesting season. The peak seems to be delayed this year and there are fewer nests. We had activity in all 3 sections this morning! North: Judy E. found a crawl at the #9mm that went up and […]
Nesting: Our last nest was laid 6/29 confirming that this is going to be a low nesting season. This is normally the peak time when nesting is at the highest. Beach Sweep: DeBordieu Security patrols the beach nightly and removes any beach items left out after dark and were particularly busy overnight. It is important […]
Want to learn More?
DNR & Other Resources
S.C.U.T.E. is a volunteer turtle protection project under the direction of the South Carolina Department
of Natural Resources. Click below to learn more about DNR along with other affiliates such as the SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
Serving the Community
We take pride in serving the DeBordieu & Hobcow community. From morning beach walks to live inventories, our passion is to inform the public
You can Make a Difference
Want to help? You can make a donation through the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.