First sea turtle nest hatches in SC; beachfront residents reminded to turn off lights

State - Regional

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging beachfront residents to turn lights off at night, as recently hatched sea turtles have begun making their way from nests to the ocean.

Sea turtles usually hatch at night, “when temperatures are cooler and predators are easier to elude,” according to DNR. They use the moon to guide them to the ocean, which is why artificial lights coming from homes and businesses on the shore can disorient the hatchlings, and often result in dire consequences.

Between dusk and dawn during hatching season, all beach-facing lights should be turned off, beach-facing blinds and drapes should be closed, and flashlight/flash-photography use on the beach should be avoided. DNR says

DNR confirms that the first hatch occurred on Kiawah Island on July 11. The eggs, laid on May 6, had been in incubation for 66 days. “Dozens of tiny sea turtle tracks leading across the beach and into the ocean” indicate the hatchlings safely made it to the sea.

From May to around September of each year, sea turtles will continue nesting on SC beaches. So far, DNR reports around 4,200 nests recorded. Last year, DNR reported a record-breaking nearly 9,000 nests.

Other tips to keep sea turtles safe include respecting boating laws and boating cautiously, “especially in small tidal creeks where sea turtles like to feed,” observing sea turtles from a distance (sea turtle nests are protected under federal law), and keeping our beaches clean.

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