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What You Can Do to Help Sea Turtles
Dated: May 11 2020
It's sea turtle nesting season on our local Beaufort SC beaches. From May through October, it's a favorite time of the year for many locals here in the Lowcountry.
This is the time of year when hundreds, thousands of loggerhead sea turtles can be found digging their nests on our local Beaufort SC beaches. We even have been met with a few surprises recently, with green sea turtles, and even the rare leatherback and Kemps ridley turtles making their nests on our local sea islands.
When a turtle comes ashore to lay its eggs, lots of things come into play. If there are people around, the turtle will usually go back into the ocean and wait for another day.
Believe it or not there are lots of things that you can do to help our local nesting sea turtles.
Whether or you live near areas where sea turtles are found or you're just visiting, there’s plenty you can do to help these beautiful animals.
Let’s look at a few:
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.
Keep the beach clean
Sea turtles can become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by sea turtles, often resulting in injury or death.
Leave turtles alone
How many of you want an audience when you’re giving birth? Honestly? Yes, sea turtles are cute, and therefore they’re tempting to touch and observe, but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest. 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 later in the season.
If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, remain quiet, still, and at a distance, otherwise she may become frightened and return to the ocean without nesting.
Mind your beach things
Remove recreational equipment, such as lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and boats, from the beach at night. These items can deter nesting attempts and prevent hatchlings from reaching the ocean.
Always put the sand back the way it was
Always level sandcastles at the beach after you’re done enjoying your visit. And, please, fill in those holes. A momma sea turtle doesn’t need to fall into a hole or come face to face with the fortress of Helm’s Deep while she’s struggling to find a nesting spot. This is their environment, no pitfalls or fancy castles are necessary. Don’t give the sea turtles in Beaufort a hard time.
Also, leave tracks left by turtles undisturbed. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of turtle that nested and to find and mark the nests for protection.
When boating, stay alert and avoid sea turtles. Propeller and collision impacts from boats and ships can result in injury and death of sea turtles. Also, stay in channels and avoid running in seagrass beds to protect this important habitat from prop scarring and damage. Avoid anchoring boats in seagrass beds and coral reefs, which serve as important foraging and resting habitats for sea turtles. Lots of folks who relocate to Beaufort SC aren't aware of our turtles.
Sea turtle nesting season is a special time here in the Lowcountry. You can help keep it here for generations to come.
If you want to live in an area where there is lots of seasonal sea turtle activity, we can certainly help you out. If you're thinking of relocating to the Beaufort SC area, we can help make your dream a reality by helping you find your forever home here in the Lowcountry. Call us at 843-521-2121 and one of our experienced agents can assist you in becoming a Beaufort local.
cover photo courtesy Janie Lackman, Fripp Island