It’s that time of year again — when hundreds of Loggerhead sea turtles begin crawling onto the shores of Beaufort County beaches and laying their nests.
Females usually begin nesting the first or second week of May, and the nesting season continues until the end of October.
They emerge out of the ocean at night and lay an average of 120 eggs per nest.
While Loggerheads are listed as a threatened species by both the federal government and the state of South Carolina, there are many ways you can help promote their survival on Beaufort County beaches.
Here are 5 thing you can do to ensure a safe and successful 2017 nesting sea turtle season:
1. Turn off your lights.
After the young turtles hatch, they navigate to the ocean by following the slope of the beach and skylight reflected off the ocean’s surface. Lights that are brighter than this natural light, such as a flashlight, disorient the hatchlings and cause them to move inland, where they often die of dehydration, drown in pools or get hit by a car.
So, don’t use flashlights, flash photography or cell phone lights on the beach at night. If your building is visible from the beach, turn off your outside lights at 10 p.m. until the end of October. You can, however, use a special red flashlight.
2. Draw your blinds.
If any of your interior lights are visible from the beach or cast light on the beach, close your blinds or drapes at 10 p.m. or turn them off.
3. Keep the beaches litter free.
Pick up and throw away your trash in the proper garbage cans and remove your belongings for the beach each day. Never leave beach umbrellas, tents, chairs or any other beach accessories on the beach overnight. Nesting female turtles may get tangled in them and they can often disorient the hatchlings.
4. Fill in holes in the sand.
If you are digging holes in the beach, return the sand to its flat state before leaving the beach. Hatchlings can fall into the holes, get stuck and die.
5. Knock down sand castles.
If you build a sand castle on the beach during the day, make sure to break it down and return the sand to its flat state before leaving. Similarly to holes along the beach, sand castles can often be death traps for hatchlings.
6. Leave the nests alone.
In order to not disrupt the nesting process, respect sea turtles by observing them from a distance on the beach. Do not touch or remove any eggs from the nests.
7. Report dead and alive sea turtles to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources