Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who followed us on social media, attended turtle talks, read our newsletter, joined Turtle Trackers, participated in beach sweeps, donated to Sea Turtle Patrol HHI, and did your part in spreading the word about beach preservation and sea turtle conservation.
This highly successful turtle season, which started May l and officially ends at the end of October, would not have been possible without the interest and support of our island community. It truly took a village to reach the thousands of visitors with information about sharing the beach with federally protected nesting loggerheads and how to support our efforts.
Success is measured in many ways: spreading awareness from the beaches of Hilton Head Island to a national audience through local and national network television, publications, social media, and the hundreds of thousands of folks reached through a wide outreach program supported by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Town of Hilton Head Island.
Success is also measured by the second highest documented nesting density on record for Hilton Head Island.
There was a total of 423 nests (396 on the island’s beach plus 27 nests between Mitchelville and Pine Island in Hilton Head Plantation). The record year was in 2019 with 463 nests.
The last nest of this season was laid Aug. 6. The latest possible date for nest monitoring in 2022 will be Oct. 15.
Until then, Turtle Trackers will continue to fill holes and remove obstacles in the vicinity of the remaining nests so that the hatchlings have a clear path to the ocean.
We are now busy planning for the 2023 turtle season. I look forward to creating more opportunities for residents and visitors to learn about sea turtle biology and strengthening the efforts being made to encourage ecotourism on the island.
Turtle season might soon be over, but you’ll continue to hear from us! This off-season preparation is critical. When the nesting begins next May, we’ll concentrate on “sand management” and hope that our efforts have set us up for success.
Keep in touch with us! There are several festivals, events, and presentations to look forward to, as well as Turtle Tracker training (open to the public) in April and May. Visit our website at seaturtlepatrolhhi.org and our Facebook and Instagram posts for current turtle news.
Amber Kuehn is executive director of Sea Turtle Patrol HHI, and is the SCDNR permit holder for the island.