Do you think you have what it takes to become a S.C.U.T.E. Volunteer?

Being a sea turtle volunteer is very rewarding, but we work hard! Our day begins before or at sunrise walking the beach searching for nesting/hatching activity. We encounter weather, insects and heat, but get good exercise and see amazing sights while helping a protected species! The reward is getting to see that our efforts have paid off as we inventory nests after hatching.

We have our season kick-off meeting in mid-April. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact: betsybrabson@gmail.com.

There are over 30 nest protection projects along the coast of South Carolina with over 1100 participants. They include a range of individuals, from paid federal and state employees to projects that are run entirely by volunteers. 

Individuals are required to have state permits (which are renewed annually) in order to manipulate nests and handle stranded carcasses. This requires training by SCDNR staff both in the classroom and field, which covers the following activities:

What We Do

  1. Beach patrol: The beach is surveyed each morning at dawn to locate loggerhead tracks in the sand where the turtle emerged to nest the previous evening. This is done by walking, use of an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV), or by a four-wheel drive pickup truck.

2. Nest relocation/inventoryThe egg chamber is located below the sand with a wooden dowel “probe stick”, a new egg chamber is constructed in a safer location, and the eggs are transferred to the new site. A post-emergence inventory involves counting the number of hatched eggs and dead or live hatchlings in the nest to calculate the percentage of hatchling emergence.

3. Nest protection: This activity involves constructing predator-proof cages, screening nests, staking and marking nests, clearing away debris prior to hatching, removing heavily accreted sand from nests or from over screens, installing ghost crab traps, monitoring nests for predation, monitoring nests for emergence, and providing crowd control at emerging nests.

4.Administration/organizational: This involves filling in application forms for a state permit, scheduling volunteer work times, summarizing year-end data for preparation of a final report to the state, as well as presenting public educational programs.

5. StrandingsThis involves the collection of biological data on sea turtle carcasses that wash ashore. The person must be able to correctly identify the species; interpret field signs for the presence of boat strikes, other human interactions, or shark wounds; and take accurate measurements of the carcasses.

Thank you Volunteers!