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Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Facts

The loggerhead sea turtle is the state reptile of South Carolina.

  • Loggerhead sea turtles are classified as "threatened" in the United States and "endangered" internationally. They are a state and federally protected species.

  • In the United States, loggerheads nest from Virginia to the Gulf Coast.

  • Loggerheads are carnivores, and eat crabs, lobsters, clams, sea urchins, and jellyfish. They use their powerful jaws to crush crustaceans. Juvenile loggerheads eat small invertebrates, such as crabs.

  • Adult loggerheads are between 33 and 48 inches in length and weigh up to 350 pounds.

  • Loggerhead lifespan is estimated to be 50 to 80 years or more.

  • Loggerheads reach sexual maturity between 20 and 35 years of age, mainly based on food availability.

  • Only females return to land, to lay their eggs. Males remain at sea their entire lives.

  • In South Carolina, females nest 4 to 7 times a season, with 12-15 days between nestings. The female usually then takes a 2 to 3.5 year "break" before nesting again.

  • Females may mate several times with different males, storing enough sperm for the entire egg laying season. Nesting season here in South Carolina begins in May and continues through August. Average egg incubation on our beach is 56 days.

  • Nest temperature determines the sex of the hatchling turtles. Hotter temperatures produce more females, cooler temperatures more males.

  • After hatching, the hatchling turtle remains in the nest approximately two days while its shell hardens and it absorbs its yolk sac.

  • Hatchlings must be allowed to walk to the water unaided. This allows them to imprint on our sand and orient themselves to the earth's magnetic field. It has been shown that adult females may return to nest in the same region, or even the same beach, on which they were hatched.

  • After sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests, they vanish into the sea. Until recently, their journey was largely shrouded in mystery. Now, as technology advances, researchers are beginning to understand where turtles go during their so-called “lost years.”

Click here to watch the documentary “Sea Turtles: The Lost Years”

Seasonal Rules and Regulations

 

With sea turtle nesting season approaching, here are a few reminders that will help our tiny turtles and nesting mamas out. Remember we share the beach with these amazing creatures. Let’s work together to make our beaches safe for people and turtles alike.

 

  • If you are lucky enough to see a mother turtle or baby hatchling on the beach, stay at least 50 feet away from them. Please do not disturb them or their approach to and from the nest. Watch from a respectable distance behind them and away from their peripheral vision.

  • Fill any holes you see on the beach to help keep the turtles from falling in and getting stuck.

  • Be sure to remove tents, canopies, toys, nets, and beach gear left behind to protect the path for the turtles.

  • If you witness someone not respecting our beaches or turtle tracks, please let them know the importance of preserving the natural environment for our wildlife. If they refuse to cooperate, please contact the Park Ranger immediately.

  • Keep lights out on the beach at night so hatchlings won’t be confused looking for the brightest horizon.

  • Pick up any trash or debris you might find on our beautiful beach.

  • Do not step on the newly planted dunes or enter the bird sanctuary areas. Dogs, people, and equipment can pose a danger to our birds that visit there as well as turtles that nest in these areas.

 

We all want to keep Hunting Island pristine and beautiful for us to enjoy, and ESPECIALLY for the wildlife that we find so precious to this hidden gem!

 

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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