SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION PROJECT

In cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our volunteers commit their early mornings from May through mid-October to walking the beaches of Hunting Island State Park, locating and protecting nests, relocating nests when necessary, and conducting nest inventories after the hatchlings emerge. 

 

In 2019, volunteers located and protected 153 loggerhead nests in the six zones of the Hunting Island State Park Beach.  Approximately 8,945 young turtles successfully hatched, assisted by our efforts. In 2020, we were able to protect 134 nests, and we are looking forward to the 2021 season.

 

Who are the Volunteers?

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

 

What will I do if I join the Project?

  • Walk the 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 hatching and hatchling emergence.

  • Inventory nests when hatching is complete.

What might my assigned role include?

Sea Turtle Project Team Members:

  • Attend a morning training session on South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Friends of Hunting Island 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):

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, when necessary, to a day when 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.

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 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!

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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 www.seaturtle.org. This organization collects and shares information on sea turtle conservation programs all over the world!

How do I get involved?

Questions about the Sea Turtle Conservation Project?

Write to: FOHIseaturtleproject@gmail.com

 

How else can I help?

 

Check out Facebook Friends of Hunting Island Sea Turtle Conservation Project to find up to date information and happenings for our Sea Turtle Conservation Project

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