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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sea Turtles in Garden City Beach, SC.

While neighboring Huntington Beach State Park gets most of the attention, Garden City Beach has always been a prime spot for sea turtle nests. This year was better than most, with two Loggerhead nests and two Green Turtle nests. Local turtle aficionados got a rare treat on December 2, when SCDNR officials and volunteers from SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) inventoried a late-hatching Green Turtle nest.

This nest was laid in mid-September behind Second Sunrise, which is a little late for most turtles in this area. Whereas most summertime nests will hatch in about 60 days, this one took 85 days before the first sign of life. Because the air and water temperatures have been so cold, the SC Department of Natural Resources made the call to go ahead and "inventory" the nest and transport any fully-hatched turtles to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, about 60 miles offshore.

The inventory began at noon, and visitors were delighted as one live turtle after another came into view. All in all, 24 fully-hatched turtles were brought out, to go with six that had dug themselves out over the past several days. In addition, another 20 or so partially-hatched babies (known as "pips") and at least that many more unhatched eggs were unearthed as well. Sue Habermeier, the owner of Second Sunrise and a SCUTE volunteer, said that these eggs would be re-buried in order to allow the turtles to come out on their own timeframe.

The combination of the late hatching, the weather and the long boat trip to the Gulf Stream means that these turtles have a long and difficult journey ahead of them. However, as one SCUTE volunteer noted, "If even one makes it, this will all have been worth it!"



Sea Turtles in Garden City Beach, SC.

Monday, December 6, 2010

While neighboring Huntington Beach State Park gets most of the attention, Garden City Beach has always been a prime spot for sea turtle nests. This year was better than most, with two Loggerhead nests and two Green Turtle nests. Local turtle aficionados got a rare treat on December 2, when SCDNR officials and volunteers from SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) inventoried a late-hatching Green Turtle nest.

This nest was laid in mid-September behind Second Sunrise, which is a little late for most turtles in this area. Whereas most summertime nests will hatch in about 60 days, this one took 85 days before the first sign of life. Because the air and water temperatures have been so cold, the SC Department of Natural Resources made the call to go ahead and "inventory" the nest and transport any fully-hatched turtles to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, about 60 miles offshore.

The inventory began at noon, and visitors were delighted as one live turtle after another came into view. All in all, 24 fully-hatched turtles were brought out, to go with six that had dug themselves out over the past several days. In addition, another 20 or so partially-hatched babies (known as "pips") and at least that many more unhatched eggs were unearthed as well. Sue Habermeier, the owner of Second Sunrise and a SCUTE volunteer, said that these eggs would be re-buried in order to allow the turtles to come out on their own timeframe.

The combination of the late hatching, the weather and the long boat trip to the Gulf Stream means that these turtles have a long and difficult journey ahead of them. However, as one SCUTE volunteer noted, "If even one makes it, this will all have been worth it!"