How to Help
All 7 Sea turtle species are either threatened or endangered and federally protected. Loggerheads are the most common along the South Carolina coast. There are many ways you can help preserve these species. Making a positive difference for sea turtles in your area is as simple as educating yourself of what you can do.
Keep lights out on beachfront property during nesting season. Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. Artificial lighting confuses the hatchlings and causes them to head inland instead of out to sea – putting them in dangerous situations which can lead to death. Artificial lights also discourage adult females from nesting on the beach. Short of turning off your lights, you can also take measures to shield, redirect and lower the intensity of the lights on your property. Also, refrain from using fireworks, flash photography or constructing campfires during turtle season.
After your fun day at the beach, please remove all tents, chairs, toys, etc. Sea turtles need a clean, clear beach on which to nest. If they encounter an obstacle, they have no reverse gear and may return to the ocean without nesting.
Do Not Disturb
Sea turtles are cute, and therefore tempting to touch and observe – but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest, on the beach. Make sure to give nesting areas plenty of space, and do not disturb females as they emerge from the ocean looking for a place to nest. Also be conscious of where nesting areas are so that you
can avoid trampling the hatchlings as they head to the water.
Areas that have been roped off or labeled as “off-limits” in order to protect the nest and hatchlings should be respected. Keep your dogs on leashes and make sure young children understand. Remember, sea turtles are protected under federal and state law and any activity that threatens that protection could be punishable.
The chemicals you use on your lawn and in your home can actually wash into the coastal
waters – killing plants and animals. It is very important to properly dispose of toxic
chemicals and, even better, find alternative products such as biodegradable solutions.
There are countless ways in which you can make a positive difference in the lives of sea turtles. Organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger. Sea turtles are protected, so be sure to report any vandalism to the local authorities. If you see any sea turtle activity, report it as soon as possible. The most important to report are sick or injured live turtles that need immediate care, and dead stranded turtles need to be tended to in a timely fashion. Help ensure sea turtles have a long and healthy future.
Be on the look out for orange nets and DNR nesting markers. These areas are protected nesting zones. If you see stranded or injured sea turtles contact DNR immediately.