EDISTO BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Dozens of newly hatched sea turtles were recently found dead by a gas station at Edisto Beach, likely because white lights by the beach led the turtles toward land instead of the ocean, according to a conservationist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Sea turtles can mistake the light for the horizon and head towards the road instead of the ocean after hatching, Marine Turtle Conservation Coordinator Michelle Pate told WCSC-TV.
“These are little two inch guys and gals that are coming out of the nest,” Pate said. “And they’ve got to make their way all the way to the Gulf Stream, and that’s a couple days of swimming for them. So they have this finite amount of energy.”
Pate recommended homeowners and beachgoers to leave lights off on the beach at night.
Officials are tracking 5,200 nests along the state’s coast. More than 200 of those have hatched, some in Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and Isle of Palms. In at least four recently hatched nests, turtles have headed toward land instead of water, Pate said.
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