Saturday, July 16, 2011

SCDNR Mid-Season Turtle nesting numbers

Mid-season (through June) marine turtle nesting, stranding update for S.C. coast

So far through June of 2011 (representing 54% of the nesting season), 2,545 loggerhead, and four leatherback nests have been reported on project beaches along the South Carolina coast. The preliminary 2011 statewide estimate for South Carolina this year is 3,511 turtle nests, which includes nests laid on beaches that do not have daily monitoring. Nesting in 2011 has started out extremely strong with most of the coast reporting higher than normal nest counts. Often, when nesting starts strong, the nest numbers drop off quickly towards the end of the season. Therefore, it remains to be seen as to how the season wraps up.

As the peak of hatching season approaches, the support of South Carolina coastal residents and visitors is needed to raise awareness and educate visitors to Keep Lights Out for Loggerheads. When hatchlings emerge from the nest, they are attracted to the blue and green wavelengths of light naturally reflected off the ocean through celestial light. They use this natural light cue to navigate from the nest towards the ocean. If an artificial light source on the beach is brighter than the natural light, hatchlings will head towards this artificial source. This is known as disorientation and occurs when artificial beach lighting is brighter than the natural ocean horizon. In these instances, hatchings will crawl away from the ocean toward bright, artificial lights, causing them to be more susceptible to predators and exhaustion.
This year marks the first time the entire length of North Island in Georgetown County has been surveyed for sea turtle nests during the nesting season. The number of nests documented through the end of June (which represents approximately 54% of the nesting season) is 95. If nesting effort remains strong, North Island could have as many as 200 nests, possibly more. This means North Island would be tied with Kiawah Island as the second densest sea turtle nesting beach in South Carolina (based on nests per kilometer).
To view past blog entries about S.C. Sea Turtle click here.
PhotoByJeffDennis: Dawsey the loggerhead turtle pushes off from Kiawah's beach in June of 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.