Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island

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Inventory of Nest #2 for IOP

July 30, 2021

 

 

IOP Nest #2 did very well with only 5 eggs that did not hatch. There were 4 live healthy hatchlings left in the nest three days after the others emerged from the sand. They were released to crawl to the water to the delight of the crowd. Hatch Success was 92.2% and Emergence Success was 87.8%.

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Nest #34 for Isle of Palms

July 30, 2021

 

 

NEST #34 This morning Cindy Teeter, Alice Williams and Eileen Dulany discovered tracks next to the construction site at 600 Ocean Blvd adjacent to the 6th Avenue path. This turtle did an excellent job of climbing up into a perfect spot to lay her eggs. We did not relocate the nest and are hoping for a good crop of hatchlings in mid September.

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Today's Turtle Tracks

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Nest #33, a false crawl, and another Terrapin nest rescue on Sullivan's

July 29, 2021

 

 

Marshall Stith and Jessie Jacobs on Station 22 St. called again today that a Diamondback terrapin was again laying eggs in their pea gravel driveway and they were concerned that it would get crushed by a car. So the Turtle Team was once again had to come to the rescue a nest from harm’s way. If you compare the picture from June 5 to today’s picture, you will see that it was in almost the EXACT spot as before where a milkweed seedling had sprouted. We suspect that this female loves that location. Jessie and Marshall say that a third nest was laid in their yard between these two times and that one is incubating in a spot in a flower bed where oleanders are planted. Marshall was very kind to provide shade on the hottest day of the summer so far!

We once again found a broken egg in the clutch even though we were as careful as possible when hand digging the shallow nest. BUT now that we are participating in the DBT genetics research project at UGA, we were able to save this broken eggshell and submit it with our loggerhead samples next week. Very exciting to be part of this study. Please remember to also report any of these little 6-8” marsh terrapins that you might find washed up on the beach on Sullivan’s or the IOP.

The remaining clutch was relocated to the same empty lot close to the Intracoastal Waterway where Nest #1 was taken and was marked with a tiny triangle of sticks for safety. We even sprinkled some granulated wolf urine on it because coyotes are everywhere. We hope it will hatch successfully in a couple of months

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Nest #33 for Isle of Palms

July 29, 2021

 

NEST #33 for IOP The team led by Maryalice Morro, Wendy Hume and Allen Owens found tracks just north of the Wild Dunes Property Owners’ Beach House this morning. Since the eggs were laid on an elevated spot, the nest was left to incubate there. Our turtles are coming to what is usually the end of the egg laying phase and now our focus will soon shift to monitoring for hatching and emergence of tiny hatchlings throughout the next few months.

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Nest #13 for Sullivan's

(That's a nest 3 Days in a Row !!!)

July 26, 2021

 

 

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Nest #13 Amazingly another loggerhead nested last night at Station 18, that’s two nights in a row at the same place. Diane Brumley and Jennifer Gragg were in charge of patrol in that section today. The nest was laid high enough on the beach so that it did not have to be moved, and for this reason we do not know how many eggs were laid. A genetics sample was taken and it was screened. It’s turning out to be a very good year for Sullivan’s. Congratulations!

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Nest #32 for Isle of Palms

July 25, 2021

 

 

Nest #32 for the Isle of Palms: Elizabeth Rast found tracks at 306 Ocean Blvd. where a loggerhead crawled up onto the dune. The dune grasses were broken but there was no defined body pit or thrown sand. The only promising field sign was that the outgoing tracks were so much longer than the incoming ones as the tide receded. We finally found 93 eggs buried down on the flat beach where the dry blowing sand obscured the signs we were searching for. This one would have been easy to miss and was where the police cars patrol – the egg chamber was almost run over. We moved it to a good dune near 23rd Avenue. NOTE: A loggerhead with the same track size was reported on the beach trying to nest earlier in the night while being harassed by a crowd of people. She went back into the water 3 doors south of 6th Avenue, just a couple of blocks from where the eggs were.

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Nest #12 for Sullivan's Island

July 25, 2021

 

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Nest #12 for Sullivan’s Island: Joanne Lingerfelt along with Denny and Jeanne Kraft discovered tracks near the Station 18 Path. There were 104 eggs that were barely above the high tide line. For safety they were relocated to a higher spot at the same location.

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Nest #11 for Sullivan's Island

July 24, 2021

 

An Kelly and her husband Chuck found Nest #11 on Sullivan’s Island this morning. It was laid in between the other two Nests #2 and #5 which were laid in June from Station 26 ½ and 27. The turtle came up and got up onto a small dune to lay her eggs, so we left them where they were laid after taking a genetics sample and screening the nest for the coyotes who have lived near there in previous years.

 

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Nest #1 for IOP Inventoried

July 20, 2021

 

Nest #1 was laid on May 18 and produced hatchlings after 60 days of incubation. It was found near Cedar Creek in Dewees Inlet by Cindy Bergstrom, Patti Horton, Tristi Lowther and Paige Owens and relocated away from the marsh to Ocean Point. We found 10 unhatched eggs, 137 empty egg shells and 7 live hatchlings who were ready to get into the water. Since there was an outgoing tide, these seven were released into the Inlet and swam away. Hatch Success was 92.5% and Emergence Success was 87.8% since we had to help the last few get out of the nest.

 

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Nest #31 for IOP

July 17, 2021

 

Nest #31: During the night a loggerhead laid eggs at the Boardwalk Inn/Grand Pavilion area of Wild Dunes. It’s amazing to think of her traversing that wide flat beach with so many tourists and hotel guests who are always out on the beach at night. Litter and towels are usually found there in the mornings, especially on weekends. Cannot imagine why she chose that location. Stan Schwab, Liz Firestone and April Nesbitt patrol that section on Saturdays and usually find a new nest and today was no exception. The turtle made what looked like a body pit where the eggs SHOULD have been, but none were found there. Instead they were in a spot up against a sand fence that did not look like a likely place to find them. There were 130 in the clutch and they were relocated to a good dark dune 4 doors south of the 23rd Avenue path for incubation.

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Nest # 1 Emerges in Wild Dunes

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Nest #30 for IOP

July 16, 2021

 

  

Susan Riley Chagrin was on patrol this morning when she and Linda Dunne who was picking up trash spotted tracks near 22nd Avenue. Fortunately this loggerhead chose a good spot above the spring tide line and the eggs did not have to be moved. It was marked and screened and we hope it will produce turtles in September.

  

 

 

 

 

 

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Nest #29 for IOP & #10 for SI

July 15, 2021

 

  

ISLE OF PALMS NEST #29: It’s been a very busy 5 days with 8 more nests laid on our two island along with 12 false crawls. Part of this might be because one loggerhead has false crawled without laying her eggs about 7 times in the last two days on the Isle of Palms. Her track measurements match up every time. Yesterday she crawled up at 6th Avenue, at 510 Ocean Blvd, at 312 Ocean Blvd and also closer to 3rd Avenue without laying eggs, going way up into the dunes and wandering around each time, bypassing so many ideal nesting spots. We were looking for her to return today when there were false crawls near 29th Avenue, at 34th Avenue and also near 38th Avenue, all within an inch or two of the tracks from the day before. However, this time there was also a nest at 37A Access Path matching the others. So we hope she finally succeeded. The ironic thing is that after passing up so many perfect spots in the primary dunes, she ended up laying on the flat beach where the nest would be washed over by late season storms and King Tides.

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Nest #29 was discovered at the 37A Access Path by Jane Powers and Debi Magee on their walk this morning and it contained 86 eggs, a small clutch, and possibly her last of the season. These were taken to a good dune near 34th Avenue for incubation.

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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND NEST #10: The lower section of Sullivan’s was being covered by Jan Booth and Deirdre McMurtry with her dog Scout when Deirdre found tracks near Station 14, just north of Ft. Moultrie, this morning where there was a false crawl yesterday. Perhaps that same turtle returned last night to finish the job? It contained 90 eggs that were relocated to a good dune just south of the Sand Dunes Club.

  

 

 

 

 

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Nest #27 & #28 for IOP !!!

July 12, 2021

 

Nest #27 – Sue Harris was thrilled to find her first nest which was about halfway between 29th and 30th Avenues. This was a normal sized turtle, but the tracks indicated that she was probably missing her left rear flipper claw. Instead of a sharp V mark there was only a dull faint one made by her as she crawled. She laid 84 viable eggs, but there was one conjoined one that was broken and appeared to be very abnormal. It was possibly 4 eggs joined together. We do not use abnormal eggs for our genetics research samples, so it was buried away from the nest since it was broken with yolk coming out of it. The body pit was only a few feet above the high tide line on the flat beach and well below the higher spring tide line. So it was relocated to a proper dune at that same location. Congratulations, Sue!

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NEST #28

 

Nest #28 – Carolyn Eshelman who lives in one of the Ocean Club Villas units at the north end of IOP near Ocean Point reported tracks and a body pit near the northernmost building in that complex. The wind had blown hard overnight and the signs were hard to read, but the Team was able to find a clutch of 116 eggs that were moved down to a dune near Nest #27 between 29th and 30th Avenues..

 

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Nest #23, #24, #25 & #26 for IOP !!!

July 11, 2021

 

A "Threefer" for Gillian and Richard Ellis

 

After taking five days off, our loggerhead nesters laid 4 nests during the night, all in Wild Dunes.

Richard and Gillian Ellis were covering the 49th to POBH section where 3 of the 4 nests were laid. Debbie Mann and her two dogs were also on the beach and saw the 3 nests. All of these were laid close to the high tide line because the turtles did not travel the wide flat beach where there are no dunes for at least a hundred yards.

Nest #23 was 3 houses north of the 56th Avenue Access Path and contained 102 eggs.

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Nest #24 was laid near 55th Avenue and was a smaller clutch of 84 eggs.

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Nest #25 was between the other two and was near the 56th Avenue Access Path where 123 eggs were laid.

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Then Cindy Moore, Diane Troy and Paige Hauff reported two more sets of track at Ocean Point at the north end of Wild Dunes. One was a false crawl below the high tide line. But the other was Nest #26 which we suspect may have been laid by the mother turtle who always lays in Dewees Inlet near there and has over 140 eggs in every clutch. Her tracks matched those of Nests #1 and #5 and #11 laid in May and June. We think she laid her 4th nest on Dewees Island on schedule and this might have been her 5th nest. Even this far into the season, she still laid 140 eggs!

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Since none of these nests were in a suitable spot for incubation, it was a very large task to move all 449 eggs at once to 23rd Avenue, but with Cindy Moore’s help we did. They were all placed on dunes south of the 23 Access Path and screened for safety. We wonder if they will all produce hatchlings at the same time. The beach would be covered.

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Very tired and SANDY Turtle Team !

 

 

 

 

 

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Nest #22 for IOP

July 5, 2021

 

Nest #22 was found by Janis James-Rubin, Sue White and Rebecca and Gene Kaminski near 56th Avenue this morning. There were 128 eggs laid and they were relocated to a good dune at 22nd Avenue close to yesterday’s Nest #21 which was laid there. We have been told by IOPPD that the coyotes whose den was at the 23rd Avenue path and were so evident last year were trapped by a trapper hired by a resident and don’t seem to be there anymore. We looked at the entrance to their den in the thick brush and it does not look as though they are not going in and out of it. The thick brush appears to be growing back over the opening. We were hesitant to relocate nest there this season but now feel much better about putting nests in this area that is perfect for hatchlings to easily find their way to the ocean on their own. And of course it was covered with a protective screen.

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Nest #21 for IOP

July 4, 2021

 

Checking the "field signs"

 

Finding the nest...................

 

A beautiful morning on the beach for the 4th of July holiday. One turtle crawled up at 22nd Avenue and laid her eggs right in the flat area where the police and emergency vehicles travel on their patrols and where tents and the rental beach umbrellas and chairs are set up. Kathy Kowalchick and Wendy Thiel reported the tracks and body pit early which was good so we were able to move the eggs which numbered 112 up on to a good dune at that same location before all of the holiday set up began.

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Happy Fourth of July to all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our loggerheads certainly didn't take the holiday weekend off. They were hard at work laying eggs last night.

Nest #19 for IOP

July 3, 2021

 

Nest #19 IOP There were tracks very near the 56th Avenue path at Wild Dunes in the section covered by Stan Schwab, April Nesbitt and Liz and Avery Firestone. This nest contained 92 eggs and had to be relocated to a safe spot near 29th Avenue.

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Nest #20 for IOP

July 3, 2021

 

NEST #20 IOP: Nancy Evans, Laura Riley and Penny Gorby reported another set of tracks between Seascape Villas and Summer House in the other Wild Dunes section of patrol. This nest contained 111 eggs. In both of these nests the top eggs were only about 6” below the surface and it was good that none were broken from probing thanks to careful work by the Turtle Team. This nest was placed near Nest 19 at 29th Avenue.

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Both nests had a genetics research sample taken before being relocated.

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Nest #9 for Sullivan's

July 3, 2021

 

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND NEST #9: Paula Brady and Maureen McNichols found tracks close to the Dangerous Currents sign at Fort Moultrie, between Station 14 and 15. After crossing a barrier of washed up logs and wrack sticks and numerous ghost crab holes, this turtle finally laid her 97 eggs in a place full of roots from the dune grasses there. This nest was taken to a good place between Station 17 and the Sand Dunes Club Path for incubation. Congratulations to Maureen on her first nest!

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Necessary Equipment for Turtle Patrol

 

Insulated Cup (Maybe for a morning coffee), Cell Phone and Turtle Team Tee

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Nest #18 for IOP

July 1, 2021

 

This morning tracks were found in the section being covered by Lindsay Schoen and Kerrie Scott. They were right at the path in the middle of the Beachside Community, the individual houses between the Isle of Palms County Park and 21st Avenue. Since the location was suitable, the eggs were left to incubate where they were laid.

 

This morning tracks were found in the section being covered by Lindsay Schoen and Kerrie Scott. They were right at the path in the middle of the Beachside Community, the individual houses between the Isle of Palms County Park and 21st Avenue. Since the location was suitable, the eggs were left to incubate where they were laid.

 

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Nest #8 for Sullivan's

June 29, 2021

 

Before actually probing for the nest, the Turtle Team went for a walk...a long walk to check out the turtles tracks. She wandered and wandered after nesting. I stopped and took two shots. One of the area of the nest and a second of the team following her tracks. She crawled almost .4 of a mile before finding the ocean again. She has to be one tired turtle right now.

 

It was truly a joint effort this morning because a loggerhead laid her eggs at Station 19 St. which is the dividing line between the two sections for walking. Tita Massie was covering the north end with Mark Lowman and Natalie Podnar along with Raye Ann Osborne were walking the south end toward Ft. Moultrie. So everyone met in the middle where a turtle had nested slightly on the southern side of the path and then began a long, long walk up to Station 20 where the elementary school is, wandering behind the dunes several times. Christel went back and walked the turtles track. Her high tech watch logged 650 yards which measures .37 miles she covered getting back into the water. Her V shaped flipper claw marks were odd, making it confusing to see which direction she was headed.

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The nest contained 108 eggs that were down on the flat beach. They were relocated to a suitable dune close to the Sand Dunes Club between Stations 17 and 18.

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And More Track Pictures.

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Nest #17 for IOP

June 28, 2021

 

 

Isle of Palms Nest #17 - The first call came from Jane Solomon telling us there were tracks and a body pit at 410 Ocean Blvd, next door to the 5th Ave. path. She was on patrol with Trisha Hoff and Peggy Klimecki. Christel found the eggs on the first poke of the stick and we marked the nest to incubate on the nice dune where it was laid.

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Nest #7 for Sullivan's

June 28, 2021

 

 

Sullivan’s Island Nest #7 - Then Diane Brumley along with Jenn Gragg and Joanne Staton reported tracks just northeast of the Station 16 Street marker on Sullivan’s Island. Strangely there were two dead horseshoe crabs leading up to the nest which was elevated enough to be left where it was laid.

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Nest #16 for IOP

June 22, 2021

 

The Turtle Team just can’t seem to catch a break from the weather lately. In the past we have referred to the phenomenon of seeing tracks in the wet sand that disappear when they get into the dry sand because of blowing wind as “THE FLYING TURTLE SYNDROME” because it makes it next to impossible to see where the turtle crawled and if and where she laid eggs. These field signs are so important. Sometimes we have found dune grass broken and buried, but other times there is hardly a clue about if she laid or if it is a false crawl. We say that she must have flown back to the water, leaving no tracks at all. Today the wind was howling, sand was blowing and laughing gulls were on the attack! Janine Davis and Ann Thompson found tracks just north of the hotel in Wild Dunes at Seagrove Lane. The tracks were very faint and windblown and the only sign of a body pit or possible nest turned out to be a few faint ripples in the sand. Fortunately that is where the eggs were hidden. Thank you, Janine and Ann for finding the tracks and a possible body pit.

That was the first challenge of the day, but then laughing gulls showed up and wanted to eat the turtle eggs. Shawn was trying to use the one egg that was found broken in the clutch for the genetics sample. We often find eggs cut open from dropping against the sharp seashells in that sand. An aggressive and persistent laughing gull, who was attacking her, managed to steal and eat the yolk and albumen for breakfast, but at least she was able to save the eggshell which is where the DNA is found and put it in the vial of alcohol. The other gulls were hungrily eyeing the bucket full of eggs. So they had to be quickly hidden under a towel. There were 126 eggs laid and they were relocated to an actual dune near the 31A Access Path farther south.

 

 

 

 

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Nest #6 for Sullivan's

June 21, 2021

Challenging is the word for today’s nest. We believe that last night’s loggerhead false crawled on Saturday night making long tracks on the beach all the way from the Station 17 “jungle path” marker halfway to the Sand Dunes Club path. She encountered some very sharp yucca plants where she went up onto the dune and did not lay eggs. This morning Diane Brumley and her friend Joanne Staton found two sets of tracks near there again that measured exactly the same between rear flipper claw marks and matched the tracks at the yucca plants the night before. The first crawl was not far south of the Sand Dunes Path. She wandered quite a way on a suitable dune line but no body pit or other sign of a nest was found. However, Diane deserves enormous credit for spotting another crawl not far north of what we call the “goal post” or Dangerous Current sign at Fort Moultrie. There were no tracks down on the beach, only a pushed down spot where she climbed up the scarped dune line which led to some rather hard to see tracks in the heavy brush and dune grasses. Again, there was no discernable body pit or thrown sand that we look for at a nest, BUT we found one spot where a lot of damaged sea oats and other grasses & plants were lying on the ground. At first it looked like they were just mashed down & not broken, but we kept pulling at this clump and cleared it away. That was where we probed and found 104 eggs! The challenge was not only for Diane to find that set of tracks but then for us to find any eggs. We are proud that the Turtle Team rose to the occasion in both ways. The eggs were moved to a much better spot near Nest #1 just south of the Sand Dunes Club where we wish she had laid Nest #6 in the first place.

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Nest #15 for IOP

June 20, 2021

Another nest in this very good section for turtles with good dunes. But last night’s loggerhead failed to get up off the flat beach for her eggs which had to be relocated higher. Kathy Kowalchick and Lauri Ashmore covered this part of the beach when Kathy spotted tracks near the 23rd Avenue Access Path. The Team had a very cute helper, Sam Gobien, who is 5 years old and Barb’s grandson visiting from Colorado. There were 108 eggs in the nest, but one was found broken and used for the genetics sample.

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This turtle crawled better than a 150 yards trying to nest and return to the ocean

 

 

 

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Nest #14 for IOP

June 19, 2021

Stan Schwab, Liz Firestone, her daughter Avery and April Nesbitt covered this Wild Dunes section today and Stan was first to find the tracks near 52nd Avenue. It contained 87 eggs which were moved a little higher to a newly forming dune between 52nd and 53rd Avenues to incubate. Avery helped count the eggs when the nest was relocated and kept the genetics egg safe for the Turtle Team. This is Nest #14 for the Isle of Palms. So far 8 out of our 14 nests so far have been in Wild Dunes.

 

 

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Nest #13 for IOP

June 16, 2021

 

Gina McQuilken was walking the north end with her son Sean. They spotted a nest just south of the Wild Dunes Property Owners’ Beach House. It was on the wide flat beach and contained 123 eggs which were Nest #13 and relocated to the perfect dune not very far from Nest #12 near 21st Avenue.

And there were four more places on the beach where loggerheads came ashore during the night but did not lay eggs. These “false crawls” were at 25th Avenue, Access Path 33A, between 43rd and 44th Avenues and at 57th Avenue. They were reported by Doug and Becky Dale, Sissy Harris, Barbara Jervey and Aelecia Rideout. These were all measured and documented for the sea turtle database.

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Nest #12 for IOP

June 16, 2021

It was a beautiful morning on the beach. Doug and Becky Dale along with Michelle Blackstock and Linda Dunne found two sets of tracks. There was a false crawl low on the beach near 25th Avenue and then there was a nest in the middle of the 2100 block. This turtle could not have found a more perfect spot to lay her eggs. It was up on an elevated and level plateau of sand and the eggs were left there to incubate after we took our genetics sample. This is Nest #12.

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Huge Day for the Turtle Team

June 15, 2021

It was an unbelievable night for our loggerheads with turtles laying nests near Station 26 ½ on Sullivan’s, in the 100 block and 700 block of Ocean Blvd and in Dewees Inlet as well as false crawls at Station 20, 30th Avenue and Ocean Point. Our two islands have been getting about 3 nests a week but this was an avalanche with 4 in one night!

First there were two nests found in the section that was patrolled by Jodie Morgan this morning. The first was near the 1B path and was on the flat washed over part of the beach near Breach Inlet. We relocated 129 eggs to a suitable dune at 29th Avenue. Then another nest was found at the 7A Path which contained 87 eggs. This nest also had to be moved off the flat beach to an elevated dune, so it was taken to the same area at 29th Avenue to incubate.

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Nest #9 IOP

 

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Nest #10 IOP

 

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The third IOP nest of the morning was reported by Patti Horton, Cindy Bergstrom and Tristi Lowther on the Cedar Creek Spit in the Ocean Point area of Dewees Inlet. This was likely the turtle who nests every two weeks in Dewees Inlet because she was due back for her 3rd nest. She always lays an extra large clutch and she did it again with 141 eggs. These were taken to incubate with the other two nests at 29th Avenue. These are nests #’s 9, 10 and 11 for the Isle of Palms.  

Nest #11 IOP

 

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Meanwhile on Sullivan’s Island Mark and Carol Lowman found a false crawl near the elementary school at Station 20 and also a nest on a nice dune near Station 26 ½. This is nest #5 for Sullivan’s and it did not need to be relocated. So it was marked and screened. 

Nest #5 Sullivan's Island

 

 

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Another Nest For Today

A Terrapin Rescue

 

Thomas Andrews lives on Cove Avenue on Sullivan’s island and saw a female Diamond Back terrapin laying eggs up against his truck tire. What could go wrong here, you ask?? The eight inch turtle chose the right of way on the street where cars and trucks park to dig her egg chamber and lay seven oval eggs, each about 1 1/4 inches long. Thomas carefully backed up the truck and called the Turtle Team for help. We were able to carefully dig them out with our fingers and put them in a bucket. His yard had a nice sheltered spot on the marsh where the eggs, which incubate 60-85 days, will not be run over by vehicles. He had written a “turtle nest caution” warning on an orange cone which we put over the nest for now to protect it from raccoons and other digging predators. But Thomas plans to remove it the beginning of August so the tiny hatchlings can get out and crawl to the marsh. We are getting rather well practiced at saving marsh terrapin eggs and we appreciate Thomas’s care of the terrapins.

 

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Nest #4 for Sullivan's

June 14, 2021

 

 

This morning Jenn Gragg and Diane Brumley along with their friend Joanne Staton found tracks about 100 feet south of the Jungle Path at Station 17. This turtle found a small dune and laid her eggs and then made a zigzag and circular path going back out. Perhaps someone was on the beach and scared her as she returned to the ocean. We marked the nest to incubate in situ and screened it. Then about 100 feet south of this nest they found a false crawl that was made earlier in the night, perhaps by the same turtle, that was below the high tide line.

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Nest #8 for IOP

June 13, 2021

 

 

Heavy rain overnight and at the time of patrol this morning caused problems. First Terri Stafford reported an obvious false crawl turnaround near 35th Avenue. But then there were two unreported sets of tracks that we found out about later in the morning just south of 30th and 25th Avenues. Debbie Faires, a resident at 30th and Palm, called about tracks near 30th and here there was a very small disturbed area in the dunes, but the rain had washed away the flipper claw marks and the important field sign of “thrown sand” after the eggs are laid. We probed this area extensively several times and could not find eggs, but did leave a plain stick there asking volunteers to check this spot for signs of hatchling emergence between August 5th and 12th. We are hoping this turtle then laid eggs at 25th Ave after trying unsuccessfully at 35th and then at 30th before working her way down to 25th.

While we were at 30th, Kathy Magruder, Turtle Team member who patrols on Tuesday in this section, called about tracks and eggs on the surface just south of 25th Avenue. The police were there as well. Here we found 5 whole and 1 broken egg on the surface of the sand. This was strange because 4 of them were up on the primary dune where there appeared to be a body pit and the 5th egg was halfway down toward the ocean where there appeared to be another body pit. We know that loggerheads do not split there clutches of eggs, so we wondered if she perhaps tried to nest first down closer to the water where the one egg was and then crawled up onto the dune to lay the rest of the clutch. When the eggs were found on the primary dune, they were mostly right at the surface. We removed the eggs from the hole and were surprised to discover than instead of 20-24” in depth she had made the egg chamber only about 9-10” deep which is normally the depth of the TOP egg, not the bottom of the hole she dug. This may indicate that she was missing part or all of one of her rear flippers which are used for digging and this was probably why there were eggs on the surface which is not normal. In addition to the 5 whole eggs, there was one that was broken on the surface which was used as our genetics sample. The egg chamber was then dug to the proper depth and width and 123 of them were put back into it, protected with a screen and marked with a sign. They were left in the original spot where they were laid minus the one broken one for a total of 124.

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Two Nests for IOP

June 10, 2021

Nest #6 for IOP

June 10, 2021

 

 

It was a busy night for loggerheads on the Isle of Palms. Officer Jonathan Ayer called around 3 am that a turtle was laying eggs at 6th Avenue. Unfortunately she overflowed the egg chamber she had dug. We saw her breaking eggs on the surface but managed to save five more before she could break them and they were added to the rest of the clutch making 143 whole ones which were moved off the flat flood prone part of the beach up onto a dune just south of the 6th Avenue path. She was measured and scanned for an internal PIT tag or chip and she did not have any flipper tags. We used one of the 4 broken eggs for our genetics sample. Ed Peyser, Annie Vola and Barney Cooper were on patrol this morning when Ed was the first to discover the tracks. They measured 22”, exactly the same as the loggerhead who laid Nest #3 a block away at the 7th Avenue path 14 days earlier. The genetics sample will tell us if we are correct in thinking she was returning to lay her second set of eggs.

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Nest #7 for IOP

June 10, 2021

 

 

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MEANWHILE up in Wild Dunes Deborah Johnson reported what turned out to be a false crawl near the Property Owners’ Beach House. This was a larger turtle, measuring approximately 27” between rear flipper claw marks. Then Maryalice Morro and Allen Owens along with Bryan Stevens and Steve Rogers discovered tracks at the Shipwatch buildings where there is a wide flat renourished beach. This turtle was exactly the same size as the false crawl tracks Deborah found. So we believe she first tried to nest there and then succeeded at Shipwatch later in the night. Thanks to Allen, Bryan and Steve the umbrella and chair guys did not set up on top of the tracks while they were waiting for us to respond coming from Nest #6. The turtle barely missed falling into a deep hole someone dug and left on the beach before she came to the nest site. We had a hard time locating the eggs because she crawled back out over her body pit, obliterating the field signs we use to find the eggs. Mary found a good soft spot only to pull a large ghost crab out of the hole. But finally we were able to find where the 139 eggs were buried. They were taken to the good dune just south of 6th Avenue and tucked in not very far from Nest #6 also laid last night.

 

  

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Nest #3 for Sullivan's

June 8, 2021

 

 

 

Exactly 2 weeks ago Raye Ann Osborne found tracks between Station 16 and 17. Last night we believe the same nesting loggerhead came ashore again just southwest of Station 17 again and laid eggs. Her track measurements were exactly the same and she was due to lay again. So Raye Ann and Natalie found more tracks which led to Nest #3. This time the turtle found her way to a suitable dune and laid her eggs, so we did not have to move them. She tore up and buried a good amount of sea oats in the process. We did not put X’s on the tracks this time because they lead right to the marked nest. Look for an article in the Moultrie News possibly next week on the 15th because reporter Kenna Coe was with us covering the story.

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Turtle Team's Work is Never Done !

Another Nest for Sullivan's....Sort of

June 5, 2021

 

This morning we responded to a call that turtle eggs were laid in a driveway on Station 22 St. This was several doors from the marsh and the mother of these eggs was a marsh terrapin or Diamond Back Terrapin. Naturally they were in danger of having cars drive over them and being crushed. The residents of the house were Marshall Stith and Jessie Jacobs. As you may know, Marshall is a former mayor of Sullivan’s Island and the brother of Anthony Stith the current long time fire chief who is always eager to help our Turtle Team in any way. They saw the terrapin come into their rocky driveway, dig a hole and lay her eggs. We found 5 eggs buried under the rocks of the Stith’s driveway with several more broken in the bottom of the nest under the whole ones. We relocated these in an empty lot closer to the marsh where we hope they will hatch and find their way to the marsh.

 

Diamond Back Terrapins live in brackish water and have salt glands in their heads as do sea turtles and some sea birds to rid themselves of excess salt from the water they drink. Females are slightly larger than males at about 8” as opposed to males who are more likely to be around 6”. They can live 25 to 40 years and are studied by scientists here in the Charleston area. Their population is threated by development and destruction of their habitat. Their eggs can incubate 60-85 days depending on the temperature.

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Nest #2 for Sullivan's

June 4, 2021

 

In spite of the rainy weather overnight Terri George and Richard Hanf found long tracks near Station 26 ½ this morning. This loggerhead crawled a long way before she hit the scarped primary dune. Signs were not so good that she laid eggs, but the egg chamber was found at the foot of the scarp. She laid 117 eggs. It appeared that she may have overflowed the egg chamber and pushed two eggs away from it in the sand as she covered. One of these was broken and was used for the required genetics sample. Because of the location, the nest was moved a little toward the Station 26 ½ path and screened since coyotes live near there. Congratulations Terri on finding your first nest!

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For those of you who are new, when we say a dune is “scarped” it is an abbreviation for the word “escarpment.” This means the tide has eroded it and caused a steep drop-off to form. That caused the turtle trouble last night when she was trying to crawl up onto the primary dune. DNR Guidelines say not to leave a nest at the foot of a scarped dune because it is obvious that if the tide has come up that far before, then it is likely to flood again whether in a storm or even a King Tide and could destroy the nest during incubation. That is why we had to move Nest #2 to a nearby location on a better dune. When it is close to hatching, we might have to put some black lawn edging behind the nest to keep the hatchlings from crawling back behind the dune and getting disoriented. They often follow the glow of the sky behind the island from the Charleston metro area even if there are not any lights visible from houses or streetlights

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A bit of sunshine while Barb Gobien measures the tracks.

 

 

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Nest #4 & #5 for IOP

June 2, 2021

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Nest #4 for IOP

 

 

Nest #4: The first set of tracks of the day was found by - Linda Thompson, Bev Miller, Debbie Mann, Cindy Keane and Linda Conrad - at 57th Avenue and contained 98 eggs. It was laid on the wide flat area with no dunes, so it was relocated to a good spot near the 31A path for incubation.

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Nest #5 for IOP

Gina and Doug McQuilken reported tracks out on the Cedar Creek spit in Dewees Inlet. It appeared likely from the tracks that the same loggerhead came up where there were no dunes near the creek mouth and did a false crawl before the tide was high. But later she tried again successfully where the Seagrass Lane boardwalk comes across the marsh out into the inlet. She laid a large clutch of 140 eggs up against a clump of sea oats. These were put next to Nest #4 at 31A. Nest #1was laid 15 days ago at the same place as today’s Nest #5 and the tracks were the same size. It will be interesting to see if her DNA sample shows she is the same girl  

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We got a space prepared for Nest #5 and waited for the team to bring the eggs from the very end of the island

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Nest #3 for IOP

May 27, 2021

This morning Ellen Gower and Annie & Dan Vola were on patrol from Breach Inlet to 9th Avenue when Ellen found tracks at the 7th Avenue Access Path. This turtle was seen laying her eggs around midnight but fortunately no one disturbed her or scared her away. She crawled a very long way and made it up onto the dune not far from the middle of where the path enters the beach, but we decided to leave the nest where it was laid, just south of the center. Beachgoers will have to be mindful of the sign triangle that marks the nest when they come out onto the dune. We took a genetics sample but do not know the number of eggs that will likely hatch the at the end of July. Ellen always seems to find the first nest of the season at the south end!

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Fantastic morning on the beach....you don't often get both the sun and the moon

 

 

 

 

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Nest #1 for Sullivan's Island

May 25, 2021

Sullivan’s Island has its first nest of the season! In many seasons they don’t get their first nest until after June 1, so this is a good sign. Last night a loggerhead laid 83 eggs on the beach northeast of the Station 16 Path. Raye Ann Osborne was on patrol and discovered beautiful tracks in this area which is often washed over by waves from ships in the channel which is close to shore there and also affected by King Tides. The eggs were in an illogical spot and hard to find but were discovered and moved to a better dune which is southwest of the Sand Dunes Club Path not far away for safe incubation. The nest was also screened for protection from coyotes.

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Nest #2 for IOP

May 23, 2021

 

Diane Troy and Paige Hauff found loggerhead tracks on the beach in Wild Dunes at the Summer House Condos this morning. They were laid on the very wide flat renourished area that is subject to washovers and the body pit was not distinct. A depressed area nearby looked like something beachgoers could have made. Christel read the field signs and found 129 eggs under a slight mound a few feet away. The nest was taken to a proper dune just north of the 31A path for safe incubation.

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First Nest of Season for IOP !

May 18, 2021

A loggerhead laid 148 eggs all the way into Dewees Inlet at Cedar Creek last night to begin the 2021 Nesting Season. Cindy Bergstrom, Patti Horton, Tristi Lowther and Paige Owens found the tracks which led to this nest on a narrow spit of land with the surf on one side and the creek right behind it. If the hatchlings had followed the sky glow that is always prominent, they would have ended up in the marsh and the creek. The eggs were relocated nearby to Ocean Point about 4 doors south of the boardwalk there near the 18th tee of the Links Golf Course in Wild Dunes. It was screened for protection and we hope it will produce lots of hatchlings in late July.

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ALMOST.....

Gillian Ellis reported the first tracks of the 2021 season just north of the Boardwalk Inn at Grand Pavilion in Wild Dunes this morning. Unfortunately this loggerhead crawled up and turned around below the high tide line down on the wet beach without laying any eggs. But this is the first loggerhead to come onshore here this year and we expect a nest at any time. If you check www.seaturtle.org under RESOURCES and choose NESTING and then SOUTH CAROLINA, you can see a total of SC nests and also a chart showing where these nests have been laid. You don’t even have to have an account with them or Sign In to do this. As of this morning 29 nests have been laid in SC and 75 False Crawls have been reported, including ours. So you can see that false crawls are more numerous than nests. This is normal, but we are hoping that the next turtle will leave some eggs on Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island