Bluffton mom Holly Jackson stumbled upon a turtle building her nest and laying eggs in the sand at Bostwick Playground in Moss Creek while taking her newborn daughter for a stroll on Monday morning.
Jackson took a photograph with her phone and posted it to her Facebook account before continuing on her walk but later decided to call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to let them know about the nest.
“It is such a high-trafficked area being so close to the monkey bars and slide, I wanted to let someone know about it,” Jackson said.
Jackson was contacted by SCDNR’s local turtle expert, Sally Cribs, who said that, because the turtle — which some local experts believe is a diamondback terrapin, is not a sea turtle or endangered — the best plan of action is to let nature take its course and hope that the turtles do well. She said that it is out of the jurisdiction of what DNR can do, but the property owners can protect the nest if they want.
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Pinckney Crosby, chief of security at Moss Creek, said this is not the first time that a turtle has laid eggs in that area, and he believes it may be the same turtle that Jackson encountered on Monday. “We have never seen any turtles hatch, but we also have never been able to correctly locate the nest to protect the eggs,” Crosby said.
Crosby said he would be reaching out to Jackson to locate the nest, and local master naturalist Tony Mills, with Spring Island, has expressed an interest in moving the eggs to their facility to allow them to hatch in captivity before releasing the turtles into the wild.
“The diamondback terrapin is not endangered, but it is protected.” Mills said. While he agrees with Cribs that the best plan of action is to allow the turtles to hatch naturally, he expressed concern about them being in a location that is so highly utilized.
Jackson says she hopes that the turtles are kept safe and that people learn as much from this as she did. She was surprised about the coincidence of this happening on World Turtle Day, which is celebrated annually on May 23.
If you encounter a diamondback turtle, you can report it to the SCDNR by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCDNRTerrapin.
To report a sea turtle sighting or nest, call SCDNR’s 24-hour hotline 1-800-922-5431.
Delayna Earley: 843-706-8151, @dela1030