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Data Czar Deliberations

Someone asked me how Hunting is doing nest count wise versus say Fripp and Harbor Islands. Well, it is a mixed bag. See the data for 2009 to 2023 YTD.


Fripp had some banner nesting years in 2019 and 2020. Harbor in 2016 and, one could argue, in 2022.


Hunting seems to mirror Fripp more closely than it does Harbor Island if we look at trends and not numbers. Do we (Hunting and Fripp) share the same turtles more closely? DNA analysis might tell us.


While I say Hunting and Fripp mirror each other, there were some years (2009, 2010, 2012) where Fripp fell off but Hunting Island did not. Then in 2021 and 2022 Fripp fell off more severely than Hunting did.


The banner nesting year for Hunting was in 2022, while for Fripp and Harbor they were earlier. Why the strong rebound for Hunting starting in 2019? Same thing for Harbor, but Fripp is not rebounding to the same extent from a time standpoint. Possible causes - light pollution, beach erosion without renourishment, seasonal luck of the draw, other - but remember, none of these have been confirmed or even discussed. I will add that Hunting's renourishment took place in early 2020, but 2019 (certainly very eroded at that point) was a very good nesting year for Hunting as well. I do recall seeing a study (included Hunting among others) a few years back that looked at the impact of renourishment on sea turtle nesting (before and after). I seem to remember the analysis was inconclusive.


So I think the bottom line is - while nest count trends might be more similar for Hunting and Fripp Islands, and to a more limited extent for Hunting and Harbor, it is not 100% the same by any stretch of the imagination. The numbers certainly don't match up. Always better I think to look for macro trends and numbers when trying to draw over arching conclusions. Look at SC as a whole for example, or the Index beaches as the SCDNR does.


So, back to the original question however - all three islands (Hunting, Harbor and Fripp) seem to be off to a great start in 2023!!!!


We are almost 2/3rd of the way through the nesting season - happy nest locating to all. The average season is about 83 days (first to last nest) long. Today is day 53. If we wanted 99.7% certainty of the season length, it could be as short as 56 days (very unlikely) or as long as 110 days. We hit 108 days in 2009 and 100 days as recently as 2016.


If anyone has any topics that they would like to see covered, just let us know!



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Thanks Beth for that interesting analysis!

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