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January 20, 2009

Loggerhead nesting in 2008 seventh highest year on record

Loggerhead nesting in South Carolina closed as the seventh highest year on record since 1980. The 2008 state estimate is 4500 nests.  Although the 2008 nesting season was productive, it did not reverse the long-term declining trend.

The season also included one Kemp’s ridley, five leatherback and one green nest. The Kemp’s ridley nest was the second nest on record in South Carolina and was located approximately two miles from the first ridley nest laid in 1992. The temporal pattern of the leatherback nests indicates that this was one female that nested at least five times along our coast.

Strandings in 2008 (118) were greater than 2007 (92), but not different from the 10-year mean of 133. Of these 118, 18 turtles stranded alive (2 were released, 5 are undergoing care at the SC Aquarium and 11 died shortly after stranding).

In 2008, eight sea turtles were admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium’s Turtle Hospital. The species include two Kemp’s ridleys, four loggerheads and two greens and the injuries include partial drowning, boat strikes and cold-stunning. The November 24th arrival of four cold-stunned sea turtles from North Carolina brings the patient count to an all time high of 12. With 12 sea turtles representing three different species, this is a great time to visit the Aquarium and take a hospital tour.

The South Carolina Marine Turtle Conservation Program began in 1977 with beach management research. The program further developed in the early 80's with formation of the nest protection and stranding volunteer networks along the coast of South Carolina. Today, the program encompasses research, management, monitoring and education within the local, regional and international communities.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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