2021 South Carolina sea turtle nest count will exceed 2020 total

State - Regional

In this June 30, 2019, photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, a loggerhead sea turtle returns to the ocean after nesting on Ossabaw Island, Ga. The federal government is close to undoing a policy that for 30 years has protected rare sea turtles from being mangled and killed by machines used to suck sediments from shipping channels in four Southern states. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources via AP)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — State data shows more loggerhead turtle nests were counted on South Carolina beaches this year than in 2020.

Officials counted more than 5,600 sea turtle nests this year, with data still being tallied. The final 2020 count was 5,560. A record of nearly 8,800 nests were counted in 2019.

Loggerheads are the Palmetto State’s primary nesting sea turtles. But the department this year reported a Kemp’s ridley nest and five green sea turtle nests.

DNR state sea turtle coordinator Michelle Pate says 16% of nests were washed away last year, including some by Hurricane Isaias.

This year, 3.4% of eggs were lost, including a larger share to predators.

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