1st sea turtle nest of 2014 found on Harbor Island

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 20, 2014 

Fran Nolan bubbled with excitement as she shared details of the first sea turtle nest discovered this season in Beaufort County.

The nest was laid and found early Friday on the south end of Harbor Island.

"She was a good girl," said Nolan, a member of the Harbor Island Sea Turtle Project, said of the turtle. "She went right up above the high-tide line, and we're very proud of her."

Nesting above the high-tide line means volunteers did not need to dig up and relocate the nest, to protect the eggs. Nolan won't know how many eggs were laid until they hatch in about two months and the turtles make their way to the ocean.

So far this year, at least 30 nests have been logged statewide through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Sea Turtle Conservation program.

The first nest in the state was found May 11 on Seabrook Island.

The nests are marked with signs to indicate that sea turtles are an endangered species and the eggs should not be disturbed. Lights should be turned off in houses facing beaches at night, and flashlights and flash photography should not be used. The lights can disorient the turtles.

Other turtle patrols in Beaufort County are also starting to see their first nests. The Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project team found its first three nests Tuesday morning, team member Amber Kuehn said.

Last year, the first nest appeared May 22, and Hilton Head had a record year in 2013, with 339 nests.

In 2013, 5,198 nests were recorded in South Carolina, according to DNR's website, beating the previous record of 4,604 nests in 2012.

Janie Lackman of the Fripp Island Turtle Protection Program also reported the discovery of a nest Tuesday morning.

"I'm sure we'll start seeing a lot of action soon," she said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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