If you’re visiting one of our luxury beach house rentals SC, chances are you’re familiar with sea turtles in general, and loggerheads in particular. They are more or less the mascot of the Lowcountry and especially the sea islands.
The turtle hospital at the SC Aquarium recently released its 200th rescued and rehabilitated sea turtle – Moon, a 93-pound loggerhead that had been nursed back to health. Also sent back home into the ocean was Marsh, a 149-pound loggerhead. The milestone release happened last week on the Isle of Palms, not far from our Isle of Palms vacation rentals.
In case you missed it, the Post & Courier posted a video of the release on their Facebook page. You can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/ThePostandCourier/videos/1340814685936273/
When the Aquarium opened 16 years ago, it was primarily an educational and interpretive center. But in the years since, it has grown into a hands-on rejuvenator and healer of the very nature it interprets. The sea turtle hospital has become a nationally recognized force for good in saving the sea turtle population.
Recently it announced an exciting new building project to improve and expand the sea turtle hospital at the Aquarium. The new $5 million facility will open in May of 2017.
Right now, the hospital operates in the basement of the Aquarium. Only small groups of 15 people are allowed on a limited basis to see the turtle hospital, or a total of 15,000 per year.
But after the expansion and the creation of the new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery exhibit – which will place the hospital and its seven new turtle tanks in the very center of the Aquarium for all visitors to see – 450,000 people a year will get to see the working of the turtle hospital. Exciting news, indeed!
Current turtle news near our luxury beach house rentals SC
This year is breaking records for loggerhead nesting. The intrepid Turtle Team has not found a new nest since July 27th – so now we are segueing nicely into hatching season.
Here are some stats for this season:
- There have been a record 6,278 nests found in South Carolina as of August 17th.
- Sullivan’s Island set a record for 15 nests found, the most since 1998 when there were 13. The first six nests have already hatched.
- Isle of Palms has seen 27 nests this year.
- A few unusual IOP nests: one turtle nested near the pier during the July 4th fireworks display; one nested in a forest of dead wax myrtles near the Boardwalk Inn in Wild Dunes on June12; and two nests were found in the sand traps of the eroded golf course in Wild Dunes.
loggerhead babies hatching near our luxury beach house rentals SC
It’s hatching season near our luxury beach house rentals SC!
…so watch out for baby loggerheads.
It’s that magical time of the year when small baby turtles break out of their eggs, dig up through the sand and make their way to the ocean.
If you are here in a Charleston beach house, be it one of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals or Folly Beach house rentals Charleston SC, you may have noticed loggerhead nests cordoned off and marked with orange signs. If you happen to be out on the beach at night, you might even witness the miracle of the eggs hatching.
Loggerheads are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and they need our help to survive and thrive. Island turtle teams monitor the nests and relocate them as necessary to ensure the survival of these delicate creatures.
One of the preeminent members of the team is Mary Pringle, an IOP resident and fearless champion of turtles, birds, and many other creatures great and small. A while back she wrote the following explaining the hatching process for the Island Eye News:
Loggerhead eggs normally take 45 to 60 days to hatch. Our first few nests have produced tiny loggerheads already. There is an amazing process involved from the time they are deposited in the sand by the mother until the hatchlings crawl to the ocean. Many things have to be just right for their successful emergence from the nest.
A good nest site must have an easy access to the ocean, a high enough angle or enough of a setback from the water so that the nest is not routinely inundated by the ocean as well as being high enough so that rising ground water does not enter the egg chamber. The sand must be moist enough to prevent collapse during construction of the egg chamber, and it must be porous enough to allow gas diffusion during incubation. These eggs have tiny pores in them where oxygen enters and carbon dioxide is discharged.
Sea turtle eggs are soft and leathery which helps to cushion them as they are laid and they are filled with a large rich yolk and clear albumen very much like a chicken egg. During incubation the temperature determines the sex of the developing embryos.
The pivotal temperature for loggerhead incubation is 28.74 degrees Celsius or approx.. 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature within the nest is above this during the middle weeks of incubation, the result will be female turtles. Below it will produce males.
The hatchlings break out of their leathery shells with a sharp red caruncle or “egg tooth” on their beaks which then disappears. Their shells, which have been curved inside the egg, begin to straighten out, and they absorb a yolk sac that is attached to their umbilical area. This gives them the nutrients they need to make their journey out to sea.
Over a few days more than one hundred hatchlings come out of their shells in an average nest.
They are one to two feet under the ground as they start to climb toward the surface. They work together digging themselves up, normally taking 3 or 4 days to get to the surface. If the sand is soft, it may cave in a little since the turtles take up less space than their eggs did earlier. The air space under the sand moves up with them as they all cooperate and move up as a mass.
As they near the surface the heat of the sand on top has an immobilizing effect on them, keeping them from coming out during the heat of the day, which prevents heat stress and predation. In the evening the sand cools, and this is their cue to come out and make a break for the ocean. Once again being in a large group is beneficial because predators would have a hard time capturing all of them. The lucky ones make it to the ocean where more predators are waiting. The goal is to get to the Gulf Stream where they can find protection in the floating rafts of Sargassum weed where their ocean journey begins.
As I’ve blogged about before, island residents and vacationers staying in a beachfront luxury house on Isle of Palms or in Folly Beach rentals Charleston should turn off any exterior lights from May till October, as part of “Lights Out for Loggerheads.” Artificial lights can confuse the hatchlings and cause them to head toward houses instead of the ocean.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Marine Turtle Conservation Program has a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject of loggerheads and keeping them safe. Program Coordinator Michelle Pate shares these tips of ways you, as a beachgoer staying in one of our SC vacation rentals – either our IOP luxury beach house rentals SC or a Folly Beach house Charleston – can help loggerheads and other sea turtles:
- Observe from a distance. If you encounter a nesting turtle, do not shine lights on her or take flash photography. Stay behind the turtle so she cannot see you. Lights and human presence can cause her to abandon her nest effort.
- Do not touch or prod an animal to move. Stay out of the way as she crawls back to the water.
- Turn off exterior lights visible from the beach, dusk to dawn, from May through October.
- Close blinds and drapes on windows where interior lights can be seen from the beach or ocean.
- No flashlights, fireworks or bonfires on the beach. (Note: Those last two are Isle of Palms regulations, as well).
- Fill in large holes dug on the beach at the end of the day because adult sea turtles and hatchlings can become trapped in them.
- Remove beach chairs and other items from the beach and dunes at the end of the day that could obstruct a sea turtle when nesting or emerging hatchlings.
If you encounter sea turtle hatchlings on the beach on an emerging nest:
- Do not approach any sea turtle hatchlings. Give them plenty of space.
- Do not carry or help hatchlings to the ocean.
- Do not shine any lights on or take flash photography of the hatchlings.
So keep and eye peeled for those hatchlings, and give them a wide berth. When you are interested in rental homes South Carolina, call EP for the ultimate in luxury beach house rentals SC.
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