This is an article that recently appeared in DeBordieu’s September Blue Heron Newsletter:
DeBordieu & Hobcaw S.C.U.T.E. was on track to tie our 3rd best nesting season with 75 nests when Hurricane Isaias hit on August 2-3. This storm came early in the season when only 3 nests had hatched and turtles were still coming in to lay. Post H. Isaias, volunteers spent hours digging out nests and searching by GPS for nests that had lost all supplies. The effort was amazing with spouses and others pitching in to help. DeBordieu lost 4 nests but Hobcaw took the brunt of the wave action of the storm with a loss of 12 (11 nests are still ‘missing’). We have had some inventory successes with nests that survived but percentages have been lower in general than expected due to tidal and sand inundation.
We had several exciting events over the summer. The night of July 9, one of our volunteers assisted a turtle missing it’s left rear flipper named “Gimpy’ dig her nest! The turtle had tried multiple times but could not excavate her nest deep enough due to her missing appendage. Working together they were able to dig a deep enough chamber and the turtle laid 127 eggs! On July 24 we had a rare daytime nesting at Prince George. People on the beach kept their distance which enabled this large female to lay 121 eggs. On the afternoon of August 16 a turtle with satellite telemetry on her carapace (shell) crawled up to the sea wall south of Walkway #8 but made a U turn when she saw this obstacle. We think she nested later that night between DeBordieu and Prince George.
Please remember to turn off oceanfront lighting because hatchlings are attracted to the brightest horizon. It should be the phosphorescence of the waves of the ocean and not floodlights from a house. The longer a hatchling is on the beach the greater the chance for predation. If you must dig holes, please do so below the high tide line so they naturally fill in.