Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island

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The Season is Over

Last Nest on IOP Inventoried

Sept 29, 2014

It was a soggy end to turtle nesting season with a rainy inventory of our final Nest #11 on the Isle of Palms. We could hardly get to the beach in the drizzle through the flooded access path. Only four brave dedicated turtle volunteers showed up: Donnie and Margaret Lane, Susan Chagrin, and the finder of the nest, Eugenia Dowdeswell. The inventory yielded 134 empty shells, 5 unhatched undeveloped eggs, and 28 live hatchlings who were all mature and vigorous enough to be released into the water by Eugenia. Hatch success was 95.7%, a good end to the season. Thank you all

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One last picture on the beach before wading down the path, soaked and sort of sad to see the season end.

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Last Nest on Sullivan's Inventoried

Sept 25, 2014

Good News about Nest #6 which had been through so much! First it was laid on July 29th and found Near Station 14 at the foot of a scarped/eroded dune and discovered by Norma Attaway and Tita Massie. On that day we relocated 90 eggs to a spot near Nest #3 farther back from the ocean at Station 14. But the tide continued to eat away the sand in front of it in spite of the valiant efforts of Chief Stith and the SI Fire & Rescue Squad to keep sand in front of it. Finally on September 6th it became clear that Mother Nature and the Atlantic Ocean would win the battle. So rather than have it fall into the water, we moved it again after 40 days of incubation to a high dune at Station 26 1/2. On the morning of September 22 we saw the emergence crater and dozens of hatchling tracks. After waiting the required 3 days, we excavated and inventoried it and found that all but 9 eggs plus our DNA sample egg had hatched successfully and only one little turtle was still in the bottom of the nest under all of the empty shells. This one was released by Norma and Tita to crawl to the ocean. Overall hatch success in spite of the trials and travails of Nest #6 was a very healthy 88.8%. Thanks to everyone's caring and wonderful efforts to save them, 80 new loggerheads are now hatched and gone. Thank you Sullivan's Island Turtle Team for a great year!

Final move to high safe spot.

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Inventory on IOP for Nest #7

The inventory of this nest was better than we had anticipated. It seems that 63 of the 145 eggs laid did hatch and the hatchlings made it out sometime near the beginning of September. The bottom of the egg chamber was very damp and that was probably the reason for the failure of 82 eggs. We took another DNA sample from one of the better looking unhatched eggs since they were unable to assign this nest to one of our nesting females. Hope this one will give a good enough sample to do so. The overall hatch and emergence rate was 42.8%.

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Inventory on IOP for Nest #10

Sept 15, 2014

Nest #10 at Ocean Point was inventoried in the drizzling rain this evening. Out of the 130 eggs laid, 13 failed to hatch. There were 2 dead hatchlings, 116 empty shells, and 13 live hatchlings. These were released into the surf at low tide by Christel Cothran. It was an 89.2% hatch success and a 77.6% emergence success.

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Inventory on Sullivan's for Nest #4

Sept 13, 2014

An in situ nest was inventoried this morning on Sullivan's Island. Ninity one eggs were laid with 95.6% hatch rate and 94.3% emergence success with one hatchling in the nest and 3 unhatched eggs.

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Three Inventories for the Turtle Team

Sept 9, 2014

Nests #8 & #9 on IOP

Nests #8 and #9, both relocated from the Wild Dunes area to Access Path 30A on the Isle of Palms were inventoried and both were very healthy. #8 found by Mary & Dennis Frazier and Deborah Johnson contained 118 eggs and only 6 failed to develop for a 94% hatch success. No hatchlings were left in the nest to be released. #9 found by Janie Fleming, Patty Fournier, and Mary Stork had every egg hatch and every hatchling survive with 7 hatchlings left to be released by Mary Stork. So nice to see such healthy loggerheads!

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Nest #5 on Sullivan's Island

We had a very good inventory of Nest #5 found by Karen Britton at the lighthouse on July 18th. Since it was not relocated, we didn't know how many eggs were laid, and it took a while to could all the empty shells. This nest was a surprise with turtles coming out at dawn after 50 days of incubation. There were 112 empty egg shells, 11 undeveloped eggs, and 16 live healthy hatchlings. Grace Reed who lives at Station 18 1/2 was there for her first inventory and was obviously enthralled to see the hatchlings when Karen released them into the water.

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Nest #6 on Sullivan's Moved Just in Time

Sept 7, 2014

Just before the full moon high tide we made our way through the surf to Nest 6 on Sullivan's. We got there about an hour and a half high tide. Almost all the sand that was pushed up to protect the nest, by the Sullivan's Island Fire Dept. was gone and it was only a matter of time until the nest would be washed away. The nest was relocated to a safe, dry dune at the other end of Sullivan's. We got a report from a Sullivan's resident that the original location was gone a day later.

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Nest #5 on Sullivan's Surprises Us

Sept 6, 2014

We got a call that several early morning beach walkers had seen and helped hatchling get to the water. The tide was very low and the distance the hatchlings had to go was daunting, but with a little protection from interested dogs the hatchlings made it to the water safely. This nest was a surprise....it really wan't due for another week.

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Nest #6 on IOP Inventoried

Sept 3, 2014

 

The nest at the 7A path had 9 unhatched eggs, 8 live hatchlings, and one hatchling that had gotten out but had been killed by a ghost crab. Hatch success was 90.6% and emergence success was 83.1%. Cheryl Burns who found the nest on July 5th released the 8 to crawl to the water.

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Nest #3 on Sullivan's Inventoried

Sept 2, 2014

This morning we inventoried Nest #3 at Station 14. We were happy to find that all but 3 of the 118 eggs had hatched, so when we include the one DNA sample that means it was a 96.6% Hatch Success - amazing when we were so worried about moving the nest when it was a week into development. In the nest there was one dead hatchling and 3 live ones to release. So the final numbers showed that 94.9% emerged from the nest and because of the ghost crabs only 70.3% survived and swam away.

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Nest #3 Emerges on Sullivan's Island

August 30, 2014

The nest found by Alex Garcia on July 6th that we relocated a second time because of erosion had hatchlings come out a little before dawn this morning. The tide was low and dozens of tracks went straight to the water. Since it was probably around 5 am, no one was there to see them. Eve Gentieu was checking the nest this morning and reported the tracks and a huge emergence crater left behind. However, there were ghost crabs all over the beach at low tide and they caught and killed some of the turtles before they made it to the water. We collected and buried 30 of them. This is a sad thing but a natural event that could not be prevented. That end of Sullivan's has an overabundance of ghost crabs. It is just good that the embryos in this nest survived being handled at the fragile stage of one week old and were able to hatch. This one would not have made it without the protection of the SI Fire and Rescue Squad.

Thank you, Chief Stith!

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Nest #3 and 6# on Sullivan's Still in Danger

August 26, 2014

The SI FD is the reason our two nests at Station 14 are still safe. It has taken three trips out to the beach with heavy equipment to keep the tide from taking them. The sand that was moved in front of the two nests was taken away with the high tides, but it did it's job. Areas to either side of the nest have disappeared leaving carved out indentations. The added sand saved the area where the nests sit. Yesterday another smaller "dune" was added. Linda Rumph, from the Turtle Team, went out to check the nests at sunset and was shocked to see how close the water was with and hour and a half to the high tide. She was joined by Barb Gobien, Mary Pringle and Barb Bergwerf armed with red buckets in case they were needed. They waited and waited ready to rescue the nests if the piled up dune gave way. Fortunately the tide turned, the nests survived and the team was able to make their way back to path 14 walking in the water all the way....there was no beach!

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Nest #3 on Sullivan's Gets Some Help

August 25, 2014

There are heroes among us! Chief Anthony Stith and the SI Fire & Rescue Squad have replaced the sand that washed away seaward of Nests #3 and #6 at Station 14, for the time being at least. At low tide this afternoon they were out there with heavy equipment to do the job. We are hoping that this will give both nests the time they need to incubate safely. Next time you're out on the beach, check it out!

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Nest #1 on Sullivan's Inventory

August 25, 2014

It looked like Linda had to dig all the way to China to reach the bottom of the nest this morning, but her effort was rewarded with 4 live hatchlings eager to be released.The inventory of nest #1 this morning showed it to be a great success with 96.6% hatch success and 93.2% emergence success. This difference is because there were 4 healthy hatchlings still in the nest at the inventory. The finders of the nest Kristin Zeaser-Sydow and Karen Britton released them to the delight of all onlookers. Out of a possible 118 eggs there were only 4 unhatched and 4 to be released. Great nest!!!

I'm not sure why, but the hatchlings this morning were particularly photogenic!!!

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Worrisome High Tide on Sullivan's

August 24, 2014 (8pm)

We were concerned about Nest #3 at Station 14 because there was so much vegetation between it and the ocean. So we went out there this evening to put some black lawn edging around it to make a safe pathway for the hatchlings to be guided guided to the ocean. But when we got there, we were horrified to see that the ocean is once again eating away at the dune there and both this one and nearby Nest #6 which is due at the end of September are once again only a few feet from the chopped off cliff of dune. So the vegetation that was between it and the ocean is all gone! We put the lawn edging around #3 anyway, but now the big concern is the tidal erosion. The strong east wind was really driving the waves in tonight. Tomorrow night is the new moon so the astronomical highest tide will occur. Let's hope the wind will die down before then and that the hurricane that will be passing us on Thursday will not wash these nests away.

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Two Nests Inventoried

August 19, 2014

 

Nest # 2 on Sullivan's Island did very well with a 94% hatch and emergence rate. We only
found 5 undeveloped eggs and 95 empty shells and NO hatchlings to release.

Meanwhile on the Isle of Palms......

 

We were really worried about this nest #5 on the Isle of Palms having seen ants there several times. It wasn't as bad as we feared with 115 empty shells, 16 unhatched eggs, and 12 dead hatchlings. The bright spot was one live turtle who was released and crawled into the water. This means that 86.3% of them hatched, but only 76.5% made it out of the nest. Beverly Blalock,Sandra McLean and Elaine Schupp released the one hatchling this morning.

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Nest #4 Inventoried 91% Hatch Success

August 12, 2014

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No Damage to Our Nests from Mega Moon

August 10, 2014

With a seven foot tide, the Turtle Team was worried about several of the nests on Sullivan's and the Isle of Palms. We went out prepared for the worst, but fortunately the high tide didn't damage any of our nests.

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Inventory of Nest #3 in the Books

August 8, 2014

Sometime last night or early this morning several hatchlings made it out of the nest. Tracks were clearly visible when we walked up to it this morning to do the inventory. The inventory of Nest #3 at 29th Avenue was a success. Out of 121 eggs, only 11 failed to develop and 5 hatchlings were left in the nest for an 89.2% hatch success rate. Gina McQuilken, Donnie and Margaret Lane released them to crawl to the water.

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Nest #11 for Isle of Palms

August 4, 2014

We usually get very few if any nests laid in August, but Eugenia Dowdeswell discovered tracks on the flat beach near the 55th Avenue path this morning. And it was a large nest, also unusual for late in the season. It contained 140 eggs which were relocated to a safe dune two doors north of the 29th Avenue path. This may be our last nest and is not due to hatch until early October.

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Nest #6 for Sullivans

July 29, 2014

Just when we thought the nesting season was winding down, Tita Massie and Norma Attaway discovered loggerhead tracks very close to Nest #3 near Station 14 on Sullivan's Island at the Fort Moultrie end. There were 90 eggs laid near the edge of a dune that was scarped by erosion from the last full super moon tide. The turtle managed to crawl up onto the two foot cliff but this nest was very likely to wash away before it hatched. We moved them from this precarious place to incubate right next to Nest #3 in a safer place. Our friends Lynn Rennert and her mother Bev Fretchel from Wisconsin are visiting. Lynn had her camera and was busy taking pictures. Our other guests at this nest were the Phelan family from Mt Pleasant whose daughters Bailey (Junior Girl Scout) and Shannon (Brownie Scout) are working toward their Sea Turtle merit badges in Troop #924. Their parents are Sallie and Brian Phelan and they live in Brickyard.

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First Inventory on IOP

July 22, 2014

It was a good inventory at Nest #1 this morning. The rain showers were gone for the time being. There were 7 live hatchlings still in the nest, 116 empty shells, and 11 eggs that did not finish developing as well as one dead hatchling for a total of 128 eggs laid when you add in the one we had to use for the DNA genetics study. So the Hatch Success was 90.6% and 84.3% of the nest made it out without help before the inventory.

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Nest 10 for IOP

July 21, 2014

We were afraid there were not going to be any nests at the north end of the Isle of Palms in this light nesting season. But this morning Christel Cothran found tracks just beyond the Seagrass Lane (where she lives) Boardwalk on the Cedar Creek Spit in Dewees Inlet. The turtle crawled up into the thick vegetation and laid eggs overlooking the creek and marshy area. We relocated 130 eggs to the sand fence area near the 17 hole of the Links Course in Wild Dunes. So happy to have a nest in every section of our two islands now. Congratulations Christel and the north Wild Dunes Turtle Team!

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Nest 5 for SI - And a False Crawl!!!

July 18, 2014

This morning, Eileen Hyde and Helga Greim found tracks between Station 27 and 28. This turtle m left disturbed areas and threw sand around, In the meantime at the other end of the island Karen Britton and her dog Ruby found another false crawl between the Sand Dunes Club path and Station 18. This time a turtle bumped into the steep scarp and returned without laying a nest. But then Karen found tracks right at the Lighthouse at Station 18 1/2. This was a much better spot. The turtle had broken and buried a huge amount of dune grass, so we knew she had done some digging and covering. We found eggs there and marked the spot for incubation.

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Meanwhile, in just two days the sand that we scraped off a nest was being buried again. So this time we did a little beach construction to protect the nest from being completely buried. We are going to have to moniter this one almost daily!

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Nest 4 for SI - Flying Turtle Syndrome?

July 15, 2014

This morning Carolyn Burson and her dog, Shortstop, found tracks at the Station 19 path that were visible in the wet sand but appeared to stop when they got to the soft dry sand. When this happens, we jokingly call it a case of a "flying turtle" because the body pit was way up near the path with no tracks leading from the high tide line up to it. You might wonder how this can be, did she fly up there to lay eggs & then fly back??? What happened was that high wind during the night erased her tracks. Doing detective work, the only clue or field sign we found was a slight depression in the dry sand and a freshly broken sea oat stalk partially buried there. But probing produced loggerhead eggs! We did not move the nest. Congratulations Carolyn.

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After finishing up with this morning's new nest, we walked over the check out the two other nests in the area. The wind has caused a great deal of sand build up, almost covering one of the back sticks. We removed some sand and this nest will have to be checked periodically to make sure it doesn't disappear!

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Emergency Relocation on Sullivans

July 13, 2014

With the extra big full moon last night the tide scarped the beach seaward of Sullivan's Nest #3 at Station 14 1/2. Eve Gentieu sent a photo of it showing that someone had moved the front stick holding sign and buried it right in the center of the triangle of tape because the dune had washed away where the sign had been placed. This was bad and we were afraid that the stick might have damaged the eggs. But when we got there, we found that it had missed the eggs. The eggs were only about 4 inches inside the vertical surface of the chopped off scarped wall. Another few waves would have exposed the egg chamber and washed away the nest! Since embryonic development has begun, we had to handle the eggs with extreme caution and not rotate or turn them over to any degree. We carefully removed 117 eggs and found a spot closer to Station 14 approximately 30 yards toward Ft. Moultrie to relocate the whole clutch. This was an emergency situation and we will be interested to see how well this week old nest fares when hatching occurs around the beginning of September.

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Nest #9 on IOP

July 11, 2014

Around 11 pm some tourists saw a loggerhead nesting in the yard of the last house at the northeast end of Dunecrest Lane. This was at almost the same spot where a turtle nested on June 15th and not too far away from the sand bags. Our DNA samplesl will tell us if it was the same one returning. The people called the Consolidated 911 Emergency number for Charleston County after the turtle had gone back into the water and we got calls from them. We don't go out to investigate tracks or nests until dawn so we can see. Janie Fleming, Madison Mayfield (who is Ann Sherrill's daughter), Patty Fournier, and Mary Stork were on patrol and reported this nest. The turtle had crawled into a heavily vegetated area and laid her eggs almost under a wax myrtle bush. It was a small clutch of only 76 eggs, well below the average of 120. Because of the bad location, they were moved to a good dune a little north of the 30A path for incubation. Since July 4th we've had five nests in the last week. Things really seem to be picking up.

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Nest #8 on IOP (We saw her on the beach)

July 10, 2014

During the night a very large loggerhead nested near 55th Avenue. Barb Bergwerf got a call from the police that the turtle was out there and went to photograph her nesting in the dark with an infrared camera.

She laid 118 eggs in a flat area just below the spring tide line. The nest was relocated just south of the 30A Access path for incubation. Mary and Dennis Frazier discovered the tracks at dawn and Mary Stork, a new Turtle Team member in Wild Dunes, was also there in the morning to help with the egg count.

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Nest #7 on IOP (Nests 3 Days in a Row)

July 7, 2014

A small nesting loggerhead crawled up over a log near the 31st Avenue Access Path and laid her eggs. Linda Forslund, Debbie Newsome, and Lori Nelson found these tracks. It was a shallow egg chamber, and we found one egg on the surface that she had broken as she covered the nest. This one was saved for the DNA sample. The eggs were laid just above the spring tide line, so we decided to leave the nest where it was laid. But we moved the log to a better place seaward of the nest for more protection during incubation. This is Linda's second nest of the season.

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Nest #3 for Sullivan's Island

July 6, 2014

Alex Garcia found tracks and a body pit near Station 14 1/2 not far from Ft. Moultrie. This is Alex's first year on the Turtle Team and she did well to spot these short tracks which led up onto a small scarped dune and to a body pit with lots of broken and buried green vegetation. It took us a while to locate the eggs since the turtle had crawled back out over the body pit and incoming tracks when she left. But we did not have to move the nest and it is marked to incubate in situ.

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Nest #6 on the Isle of Palms

July 5, 2014

Even after a night of noise and Fireworks at the Pier, there were two sets of loggerhead tracks this morning. Bill Schupp spotted them in the dark at 5:30. Then Anne Royall and Cheryl Burns found them on their morning patrol. The tracks on the beach at 510 Ocean Blvd appeared to be a false crawl. The turtle did not spend any length of time on the beach and did not throw sand as they do after covering the nest. Her tracks were the same measurements as the ones Cheryl and Anne reported near 606 Ocean Blvd. So it could have been the same turtle succeeding on the second try. Here the signs were better with a longer outgoing track, telling us she was up there a while, and good field signs. We found 107 eggs at the foot of a steeply scarped dune. They were moved to a safe and gradual dune at 706 Ocean Blvd at the 7A path for incubation. The Marsh family, including daughters Addison (Addie) and Riley, were here from Indianapolis and got to see the whole process.

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Nest #5 on the Isle of Palms

June 23, 2014

 

Beverly Blalock and Sandra McLean found loggerhead tracks just north of the 5th Avenue path this morning. Since the nest was at the foot of a steeply scarped dune, it was relocated to a better spot 4 doors north of 3rd Avenue for incubation. 132 eggs were laid. It's good to finally have a nest at the south end of the Isle of Palms!

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Not 1 but 2 Nests on Sullivan's!!!

June 19, 2014

At last Sullivan's Island is on the nest record books with two nests in one day. The first one was found by Kristin Zeaser-Sydow and Karen Britton near Station 14. The tracks were short since the turtle came in at or before high tide. She laid 118 eggs and there was a ghost crab and two broken eggs in the nest. Karen's Boykin spaniel, Ruby, attacked the crab and put it out of commission quickly!

Then we got a report of another nest at Station 29 thanks to Helga Greim. This is near Breach Inlet and not even in our patrol area which stops at Station 28 1/2, so we were very happy not to have missed it. This one contained 101 eggs with no broken eggs but with another crab right in the nest. Again the tracks were only visible above the high tide line. We are not sure the turtle would have laid there at low tide since she would have had to crawl over the sandbars.

Since #1 was laid in the tidal zone at the foot of a scarped dune and #2 was below the spring tide line near the inlet, both were relocated to safe dunes in the middle of the island just northeast of Station 19. We hope they will hatch and emerge at the same time. It's always nice to have twins!

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Finally nest #4 in Wild Dunes I.O.P.

June 15, 2014

Valerie Smolar found her first nest ever this morning in the yard of the last house on Dunecrest Lane, almost at the Beach Club Villas path. She and Susan Daley were sharing the patrol of this section. There were 144 eggs which were relocated to a dune just northeast of 51st Avenue. It is surprising that it is already the middle of June (Fathers' Day) and we only have 4 nests total.

 

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Three Crawls but no Confirmed Nests

June 8, 2014

There were three sets of tracks this morning, but unfortunately we have no nests to add to the list. Susan Daley found tracks at the northeast end of Beachwood East in Wild Dunes where a loggerhead had come and run into the wall of sandbags. She made a U turn and went straight back into the ocean. Let's hope she will return tonight and pick a better spot.

Eve Gentieu and her daughter also found tracks on Sullivan's between the Sand Dunes Club and Station 18. Alex Garcia was patrolling that section as well and took pictures of this crawl. In this case the turtle bumped into the scarped wall of dunes, turned around, and did not nest. Sometimes in the past they have laid nests at the foot of these dune walls and we have relocated them to safer places. But in this case the turtle also went back without digging.

Finally Nat Rob reported tracks just southeast of the Station 26 1/2 path where Andy McMarlin was on patrol. This may or may not have been the same turtle who crawled between Stations 17 and 18. In this case there was a body pit, and when we got there the signs looked promising for finding eggs. However, after probing extensively for almost an hour we were frustrated and could find no eggs where they should have been. We did leave a sign there with writing on the back to remind us to check that area between August 1st and 10th for signs of hatchlings tracks and emergence crater. We are pretty sure that we covered the places where the eggs would have been, but the turtles have fooled us before. If this turtle returns tonight and lays eggs, we can rest easier that we did not miss the eggs this morning.

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Volleyball anyone? Nest 3 at Windjammer

June 5, 2014

Of all places to lay eggs - a nesting loggerhead crawled into the beach volleyball court in front of the Seaside Inn and VFW Post near the Windjammer last night and laid 121 eggs. Bill Schupp was first to spot the tracks on his early morning rounds and then Gina and Doug McQuilken, Jane Neil, and Margaret Lane were out there on Turtle Team patrol. This was a "no brainer" for having to relocate the nest. Can you imagine people playing volleyball on top of the eggs and nest sign?? The mother turtle broke two eggs while covering her shallow nest. These two were used for DNA sampling and the other 119 were moved to a safe dune two doors north of the 29th Avenue path. We were amazed that she went ahead and laid a nest in that area where there are usually lots of people on the beach at night.

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Second Nest for the Isle of Palms at 39th

June 2, 2014

Another nest in the 30-49th section this morning. This one was found by Linda Forslund and Liz Hartzell just south of the 39th Avenue path. The turtle appeared to be slightly smaller than the mother of Nest #1 according to her track measurements and she found a nice high spot on the dune to lay her eggs. We marked the nest where it was laid and did not have to relocate it.

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First Nest for the Isle of Palms

May 18,2014

We got our first nest of the season this morning. Ann Evans and Terri
Stafford, along with Ann's new puppy, Jojo, discovered that a
loggerhead has nested right next to the 46th Avenue path on the Isle
of Palms. She found a good spot to lay her eggs, so we marked the
nest and left it there to incubate. There are only six other nests in the state now.

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