Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island

Contact Us

__________________________________________

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.

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

=========================================================================

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.

..

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

=====================================================================================

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.

+++++++++++

Nest #9 IOP

 

...

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

_______________________________________

Nest #10 IOP

 

...

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

__________________________________________________________

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

 

...

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

_______________________________________________________

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

 

 

===============================================================================

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.

 

======================================================================

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.

....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

...

 

===================================================================

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.

....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

....

...

====================================================================

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.

....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

.....

 

===================================================================================

Nest #7 for IOP

June 10, 2021

 

 

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

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.

 

  

=======================================

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.

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

========================================================================================

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.

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

=======================================================================================

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!

......

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

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

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

_____________________

A bit of sunshine while Barb Gobien measures the tracks.

 

 

========================================================================================

Nest #4 & #5 for IOP

June 2, 2021

___________________________________________________

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.

.....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

____________________________________________________________ 

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  

....

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

...

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

======================================================================================

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!

....

....

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

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

 

 

 

 

===========================================================================================

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.

....

... .

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

 

 

  

 

 

==========================================================================================

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.

... .

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

  

 

 

================================================

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.

.... 

Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge

 

 

======================================================================================

 

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