HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – Loggerhead sea turtles have been making their way back to South Carolina beaches to create nests as part of sea turtle nesting season.
Park rangers at the Myrtle Beach State Park said it’s been an average season so far but nesting season in South Carolina runs through October.
Along beaches, you’ll notice certain areas roped off, signs and spots covered with a net. That’s to prevent people and other animals from disturbing sea turtle nests. Park rangers said they’ve seen a little more than 200 nests in Horry and Georgetown counties. Some nests have 70 to 154 eggs but it’s too soon to tell when the sea turtles will hatch and emerge.
“It’s really kind of hard to pinpoint exactly when they are going to emerge because really it’s almost a twenty day window. Usually they emerge at night but if you are looking to walk on the beach at night, we kind of would like you not to because we don’t want you to disturb the turtles. If you do, make sure to shut off all lights, all flashlights, all phones,” park ranger, Ann Wilson said.
Any kind of light from devices can attract baby turtles away from the sea so be sure to keep them off.
Park rangers said three sea turtle nests have been seen at the state park. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, sea turtle clutches average 120 eggs and hatch after 60 days.
Nesting sea turtles may remain in South Carolina waters and continue to nest every two weeks, laying up to six nests per season.
Park rangers said they’ve seen fewer than 50 nests around beaches in Horry County because it’s not a common nesting place for sea turtles.
“We’ve had an actual three nests at the state park but we’ve also relocated from the City of Myrtle Beach and private campgrounds about 17 to 19 nests into the state park,” Wilson said.
If you do come across a sea turtle or a nest, do not bother it. Federal and state law protects these sea turtles. It’s illegal to disturb or harass sea turtles and you could pay thousands of dollars in fines.