Sea Turtle Conservation Project

  • Sunrise
  • Sunrise
  • Turtle Tracks
  • Digging for the eggs
  • Exposed eggs
  • One egg removed
  • A nest full of eggs
  • A baby turtle
  • Turtle volunteers
  • Returning to the sea
  • Returning to the sea
  • Babys leaving
  • Going on a long journey


In cooperation with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the volunteers of the Sea Turtle Conservation Project commit their early mornings from May through mid-October to walk the beaches of Hunting Island State Park, locating and protecting nests, relocating nests when necessary, and conducting nest inventories after the hatchlings emerge.  In 2016, volunteers located and protected 141 loggerhead nests in the six zones of the Hunting Island State Park Beach.  Approximately 7225 young turtles successfully hatched, assisted by our efforts. What will 2017 bring?”

Who are the Volunteers?

People like YOU, who commit to join the Project and Friends of Hunting Island.

What will I do if I join the Project?

Hunting Island Marsh Boardwalk• Walk Hunting Island State Park beach with other volunteers to identify sea turtle crawls (tracks) and nests.
• Help locate the nest cavity
• Help relocate nests laid within the intertidal zone to higher ground.
• Protect nests with mesh and wire cages, and identify with official signage.
• Monitor nests for signs of hatches and hatchling emergence.
• Inventory nests when hatching is complete.

What might my assigned role include, and what would I need to do?

Sea Turtle Team Members:

• Attend a morning training session on SCDNR and FOHI requirements and procedures during the first week of May.
• Report to the Visitors’ Center at 6 AM one day per week during the nesting and hatching season, May through mid-October.
• Walk the beach with Team Leaders and look for turtle tracks and nests.
• Protect nests in situ or relocate nests.
• Monitor nests for signs of predation, and later hatching.
• Participate in nest inventories when hatching is complete.
• Enjoy the beautiful sunrises and watch for mother sea turtles leaving the beach!

Sea Turtle Nest Probers/ Team Leaders (returning volunteers only):

Hunting Island Marsh Boardwalk• Responsibilities include all of the responsibilities of Team Members plus the following:
• Attend a special training for probers, to learn to identify the precise location of a nest.
• Be reassigned where necessary to a day where the need for a prober is greatest.
• Locate the nest cavity
• Extract one egg from each nest for DNA testing.
• Determine whether a nest should be relocated.
• In the case of relocation, direct and assist the digging of the new nest cavity on higher ground.
• Direct and assist with properly moving the eggs from the old nest to the new nest site.
• Supervise the protection of the nest from predators using a mesh screen or wire cage.
• Supervise the marking of DNA vials and nest signage.
• Report findings.

Hunting Island Marsh Boardwalk
Sea Turtle Project Day Leaders (returning volunteers only):

• Responsibilities include all of the responsibilities of Team Leaders and the following:
• Assign each team to its zone of responsibility for the day
• Maintain radio contact with all teams and assist as necessary.
• Make sure all teams have left the beach safely and have reported their findings.

What do I get in return for all this?

FOHI Sea Turtle Conservation Project Volunteers have the satisfaction of knowing that they join the ranks of elite sea turtle conservation volunteers across the state, nation, and globe in preserving one of our most threatened marine creatures.  Sea turtles have been in our earth’s oceans for about 145 million years, but their numbers are declining.   Only YOU can help to stop this decline, and that is something to be proud of!

How does MY work help Hunting Island’s Sea Turtle Conservation Project?

In addition to watching our numbers of nests increase, Sea Turtle Project volunteers log their hours and mileage in at  This organization collects and shares information on sea turtle conservation programs all over the world!

How do I get involved?

• Join Friends of Hunting Island here:  Membership Application.
• After you join FOHI, you may then click on the link to participate in the Sea Turtle Project • Complete this online form by March 31. • Attend training, one full morning during the first week of May.

If I cannot make this commitment, how else can I help?

• Follow our blog by clicking daily on the Nest Notes link and see what is happening on the beach.
• Join any morning patrol or nest inventory as a visitor.  Children are especially welcome!
• Adopt one of our sea turtle nests for $25 at  and Hunting Island Sea Turtle Conservation Project receives $15 for every nest adopted.


Site LogoHelp us keep Hunting Island State Park a special place

We need only two simple things to provide the services and projects you see described on this website; your participation and your tax-deductible membership fees. For one $40 membership contribution, you and your family can join our Friends organization for one year. All members are encouraged to participate in any of our on-going projects. If you do not wish to join, but want to donate to our efforts, Click here to make a tax deductible donation to FOHI.