DeBordieu & Hobcaw’s final nest of the 2020 season was also the last nest in SC to be inventoried. DEB29 laid on 8/17 was located between DeBordieu and Prince George. As temperatures cooled at 75 days there had been no hatching which is normally 55-60 days. SCDNR allows volunteers to dig out the nest contents at this point.
On chilly Saturday, Oct. 31 with a nor’easter blowing, volunteers set out to do the inventory. When the first volunteer arrived, there were 15+ hatchlings laying on the sand almost motionless. They were cold-stunned but quickly warmed up in a bucket of ocean water which is about 10 degrees warmer. There were a total of 78 healthy hatchlings pulled from the chamber and put in 2 buckets. Letting them crawl on the beach and into the rough ocean was not going to work as they would get swept back in and wash up on the beach. After a call to SCDNR, it was decided volunteers would release the hatchlings at Pawleys Inlet hoping the outgoing current would carry them to the ocean. Again, many were swept back onto the beach. The Sunday forecast was to be warmer with decreasing winds. The plan was to overnight the remaining 45 turtles in a dark garage up at Prince George and release them at 10:00 a.m. the next morning.
A throng of volunteers and interested people were heading north to participate in/watch the release. All volunteers were needed as Steven and Pat took the total of 45 hatchlings from the buckets and put them on the beach. They were slow-moving so when we felt they had “imprinted”, we moved them close to the waves. Eventually, most all had to be helped past the breakers by Mark and Steven as they kept getting washed in. With the waves taking them north, volunteers were finding them on the beach and handing them to the swimmers:) It took a while but we felt all were at least in the ocean.
A call came in that a fisherman on the south end of Pawleys found 6 turtles.. PI Coordinator, Mary was asked to take them to Midway Inlet on the north end of Pawleys and release them to the last few minutes of outgoing tide. It is a more dynamic inlet with a much stronger current than the southern one.
The nest had a great success rate of about 88%! Whew…we are finished and what a way to end our challenging 2020 season! We regret all could not be there but hope this video by our talented volunteer and videographer, Buffie DuP., makes you feel as though you were: https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0a5zXwoYG53E0h