Loggerhead Aerial Survey Nesting Index
Standardized, statewide, aerial surveys were conducted in South Carolina from 1980 - 2007. Surveys are flown in a Cessna high wing aircraft at 67 m and between 80 and 100 knots (kt) beginning at dawn (6:00 to 8:30 a.m.) for three consecutive days every two weeks in June and July for a total of 12 flights. They are scheduled on a particular tidal cycle to assure that only fresh (the previous night's) crawls are counted. The 12 flights represent approximately a 17% sample of the nesting season. Ground truth surveys are conducted on three beaches at the same time as the flyover to adjust the aerial counts for bias. These three beaches account for approximately a 40% sample of the nesting effort. Surveys are conducted for three consecutive years to account for variation in loggerhead remigration intervals. Presentations in 1988 and 1994 at the 8th and 14th Sea Turtle Workshops, respectively, reported first a sharp decline from 1980 to 1987 and then a potentially stable trend from 1987 to 1992. The 23 year trend shows a slower, but continual decline of 1.9% per year. The overall trend and site-specific trends are analyzed as they relate to natural and man-made alterations of nesting beaches and the effects of various shrimp fishery related regulations on the population of nesting loggerheads.
The public is also
asked to report sea turtle sightings to
SCDNR. Please follow this link to the sea turtle