Yes, sea turtle nesting season is here, and I was pleased to see a June 1 editorial review ways we can all support the protection of turtle nests and their hatchlings.
I also suggest the Town of Hilton Head Island revisit its beach policy for dogs during nesting season. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day during the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but may be unleashed on the beach (under voice command) at other hours.
My concern is that dogs can walk and run over nests, especially smaller dogs, who because of their size are not deterred from the cordoned-off nesting site. Dogs also can chase the hatchlings as they make their way into the ocean. I know dog owners would not encourage this behavior, but dogs can be easily distracted and can (and often do) react based on instinct, despite the best efforts of their owners. Dogs should be leashed during nesting season to prevent any possible destruction of eggs or hatchlings.
Additionally, it would be beneficial to post signs at each beach access point featuring sea turtle protection guidelines during nesting season. At some of the access points at Marriott Vacation Resorts, they have opted to do this, and people do respond positively. The signs can be tastefully designed with a drawing of a sea turtle and some bullet points. Education is key to protecting our sea turtle population -- followed, of course, by compliance.
Hilton Head Island