Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivan's Island

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Frustrating False Crawl on IOP

July 23, 2024

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False Crawl #51 for the Isle of Palms was quite frustrating. Last night around midnight a loggerhead scaled the steep escarpment near the 2A Access Path but did not reach the top of it. A residential security camera showed that she was barely there for an hour before leaving on the outgoing tide. The Turtle Team responded and were puzzled about whether she had laid eggs or not.

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The Turtle Team responded and were puzzled about whether she had laid eggs or not. The only likely-looking spot was about halfway up to the top of the escarpment. That is where we probed, but the sand was so soft that in most places the probe sticks went all the way down to the handle, not revealing where the eggs, if laid, might be.

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We even resorted to digging with our hands and covered about all of the likely body pit. To make it even harder for us, the turtle crawled back out over her incoming tracks, further muddying the field signs. After over an hour of searching, we finally gave up and documented it as a false crawl.

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Three Nests Inventoried on IOP

July 22, 2024

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Nest #10 was an unusual one. It was discovered by Jessica Strahan from Wyoming who has a family house at 3rd Avenue. These eggs had been missed by our patrol because of the extreme erosion there that had washed away the loggerhead tracks, leaving the eggs on the pedestrian beach access path where they were exposed by foot traffic. At that time on May 31, we found 121 whole eggs and 6 that had been broken that appeared to be perhaps a week old and were taken to the 3000 block of Palm Blvd. It is unusual to move eggs at this stage, but we had no choice because the nest was being destroyed. We did see tracks of a few hatchlings on July 16 and scheduled an inventory. Today we found 11 empty eggshells, 110 unhatched eggs and 5 dead hatchlings. If we had. known about this nest when it was laid, we might have been able to avoid this sad 8.6% Hatch Success and 4.7% Emergence Success.

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Nest #5 was found on May 23 at 4 Dunecrest Lane in Wild Dunes by Deborah Johnson and Kasey O'Neil. It contained 137 eggs that incubated for 56 days. No genetics results have come back on this nest. Inventory revealed 131 empty eggshells, 5 undeveloped eggs and two live hatchlings that were released by a girl named Frankie. Hatch Success was 95.6% and Emergence was 94.1%.

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Nest #4 was very successful. It was found on May 21 at the 4A Access Path, contained 139 eggs and incubated for 57 days. This loggerhead nested on Folly Beach for the first time in 2013, again on Folly in 2016, again on Folly in 2019. But this nest and Nest #18 laid at 7th Ave on the Isle of Palms on June 7 are hers according to the results of our genetics sampling. We may learn that she laid even more nests here this season when more results are known. This nest contained 14 undeveloped eggs, 124 empty eggshells and one live hatchling. Hatch Success was 89.2% and Emergence Success was 88.4%. The lone hatchling was released to crawl to the water by Haddi Edwardson who is home schooled and will celebrate her 6th birthday tomorrow. Haddi was inspired by Mary Alice Monroe's The Islanders and plans on being Lovie, the young turtle lover in The Islanders next Halloween,

 

Life definitely imitates art

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Another young turtle lover,Frankie got to release two live hatchlings.

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Four Nests Inventoried on IOP

July 19, 2024

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Nest #2 incubated for 56 days after being laid at 202 Ocean Blvd on May 18 and contained 132 empty shells, no unhatched eggs and 5 live hatchlings left in the nest. They were released to crawl to the water by Aelecia Rideout and Cindy Judy. Hatch Success was 99.2% and Emergence Success was 95.5%. It's not 100% because we used one egg for our genetics sample

Nest #3 incubated for 59 days and contained 143 eggs. It was laid at 48th Avenue also on May 18 and was discovered by Aelecia Rideout, Cindy Judy, Bev Miller and Paul and Rita Koisch. Today we found 140 empty eggshells, 11 undeveloped eggs and no hatchlings. Hatch and Emergence Success were both 90.9%

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They were released to crawl to the water by Aelecia Rideout and Cindy Judy.

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Nest 6

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Nest #6 incubated for 52 days after being found on May 24 by Bill Evans. It contained 84 eggs. At the inventory there were 46 empty eggshells, 37 undeveloped eggs and no hatchlings, dead or alive. Hatch and Emergence Success were both 54.7%.

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Nest 8 in Wild Dunes

Nest #8 was found on May 27 by Kristen Ayers and Carolyn Eshelman at Port O Call in Wild Dunes and contained 143 eggs. After 50 days of incubation it began to produce hatchlings and was inventoried today. We had been concerned about this one because of the extreme heat of the sand and the fact that some turtles starting coming out that did not have full strength and maturity. However, we found only 8 undeveloped eggs but 38 hatchlings that had died in the nest. So we were glad to rescue 19 more live ones that appeared to be mature and strong. Kristen and Carolyn released them in the damp sand nearer to the ocean and watched them scamper into the waves. Hatch Success was a good 93.7% but Emergence Success was only 53.8%.

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Nest #53 & #54 for IOP

With a nesting female still on the beach this morning

July 17, 2024

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Nest #53

The nest was discovered well before sunrise by Linda Dunne when she was on patrol with Becky and Doug Dale along with Becky's sister Franny. This was at the busy 21st Avenue path, not only down where the service trucks drive but well below the spring tide and king tide line.

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We also had time to measure her shell, scan her for embedded PIT tags and examine her flippers for metal tags once she was finished her nest and returning to the ocean. She had no tags and seemed relieved to finally get back to the ocean because she had drawn quite a crowd of people by the time she finished.

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The people watching were quiet and respectful, keeping a good distance from her and out of her line of vision.

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When we find tracks on the beach, one of the first things the Turtle Team does is measure the nester's tracks. We measure the "V" marks she leaves while dragging her heavy body up and down the beach. These claw marks help us determine the size of the turtle and help to make a record of her nest. Hopefully we'll be able to ID her when she returns to possibly nest again.

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Since this loggerhead mom was still dropping eggs when the Turtle Team responders arrived, we had a chance to try a new method of locating the egg chamber which is usually well-hidden once she throws sand all around and crawls forward after laying. This is not a high tech device, but a ping pong ball with a two foot long white string tied and threaded through it that is dropped in with the eggs as they are being laid. Then after the turtle leaves, we locate the string and follow it down into the egg chamber without having to probe to locate them.

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Once we dug in and removed her 64 eggs, they were moved higher on the beach to a safe dune for hatching in September during peak hurricane season. This is almost surely her final nest of the season, a small clutch that also contained one half-sized yolkless egg that will not contain an embryo or produce a hatchling. Unfortunately, we could not use that as our genetics sample because it has to be a normal full-sized egg.

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Nest #54

The nest was also in the section Linda, Becky and Doug covered this morning, just north of 29th Avenue. This nest was also well below the spring tide line on the flat beach. It contained 114 eggs which were moved higher in the dunes in the 2700 block of Palm, not far from where it was laid.

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Both nests were relocated to 27th Ave.

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Inventory for Nest #1 for IOP

July 15, 2024

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Nest #1 was inventoried this morning three days after they came out of the nest. This one was laid at Port O'Call in Wild Dunes on May 16 and contained 105 eggs. We found that 102 of them hatched which was a great 97% hatch success. However, the bad news is that 42 hatchlings got out of their shells but did not survive to crawl out of the nest. We do not know why this happens, but this means that the Emergence Success was only 57.1%. There were no live hatchlings left in the nest to release.

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Present and future "Turtle Lady"

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Nest #51 & #52 for IOP

July 14, 2024

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Beautiful sunrise. Very hot and humid on the beach. Two very different nests.

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NEST #51

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The first call of the morning was from Elizabeth Rast as she and Susan Lipsey were on patrol at the south end. A loggerhead had crawled up on the artificial berm of sand that was scraped up at the empty lot at 310 Ocean Blvd under an emergency permit. We quickly found the egg chamber that contained 115 eggs. Another nest saved from the upcoming renourishment project now due to start in September, possibly before this one would hatch. They were taken to the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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NEST #52

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Cindy Moore, Paige Hauff and Karen Ritter reported another set of tracks at Ocean Point in Dewees Inlet below the spring tide line. Amazingly this turtle laid only 39 eggs when the average is well over 100. Five days ago Nest #49 was also laid at Ocean Point and contained only 36 eggs. The body pit was pristine both times and showed no sign of predation by coyotes or tampering by humans. It is a mystery why these two nests have such small clutches. Perhaps our genetics research project will give a clue as to the mystery. This nest was also taken to the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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Off to 27th Ave. to relocate both nests.

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Nest #50 for IOP

July 13, 2024

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What a milestone.

Today Carol Gaston and Aelecia Rideout found the 50th nest to be laid on the Isle of Palms this season.

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This loggerhead wandered extensively on the wide flat beach at 41st Avenue before laying 129 eggs below the spring tide line. Her tracks measured the same as the two false crawls yesterday in Wild Dunes. She also crawled out over the body pit where the egg chamber was hidden on her way back to the ocean, making it a little hard to read the field signs.

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One egg was found broken down near the bottom of the average sized clutch and was used for our genetics research project to be turned in and analyzed at the University of Georgia. The eggs were moved to a higher spot in the dunes in the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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Mary's on her way to relocation spot at 27th Ave.

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Nest #49 for IOP

July 9, 2024

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Cindy Bergstrom, Patti Horton and Tristi Lowther found Nest #49 near the center part of the Ocean Point Community in Wild Dunes in the Dewees Inlet area. Amazingly, there were only 36 eggs in the chamber even though the Turtle Team dug carefully trying to find more. This is very unusual because nests average a little over 120 eggs each time. There was no sign of predation that could have reduced the clutch count. This nest was relocated to the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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An unusally small clutch of eggs.... 36

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The nest was moved to 27th Ave.

 

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Turtle Team Shenanigans....Pick on the Rookie

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Nest #47 & #48 for IOP

July 7, 2024

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Nest #47 was discovered by Susan Lipsey and Elizabeth Rast this morning a couple of doors south of 8th Avenue. This turtle always seems to find great spots to lay her eggs in this section near 8th Avenue but because of the renourishment project, we were again required to move them to the center of the island. This time there were 131 eggs including the genetics sample, and they were relocated to the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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The Eggs were located and safely relocated

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The eggs were really deep and it took extra "stretch" to remove them

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131 eggs were relocated to 27th Ave.

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A shell from each nest is prepared for DNA testing

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Nest #48 was laid at Ocean Club Villas at the north end of the Isle of Palms. We suspect that this is the loggerhead who has been false crawling a lot lately in Wild Dunes with 24" between her rear flipper claws. If so, we are happy that she finally laid her eggs. There were 128 in this clutch at the same location of a false crawl two days ago, with three more false crawls that size again the next night in Wild Dunes. Cindy Moore, Paige Hauff and Karen Ritter discovered these tracks as well as another false crawl nearby. Guess what those tracks measured - 24" of course! These eggs were also relocated to the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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A little help carrying a heavy bucket of eggs

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Today's other crawl. She didn't nest here, but found another spot to lay nest #48.

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Nest #46 for IOP

July 5, 2024

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This nest was found by Tay Thompson, Marion Rieger, Susan Chagrin and Jennifer Martin several lots north of 29th Avenue. They picked up lots of trash after the July 4th crowds. This is a good section for nests, but the loggerhead left her 127 eggs exactly in the path that service trucks and police cars drive on the beach and below the spring tide line. Congratulations, everyone.

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Shawn is back after recovering from knee surgery, probed and found the eggs which were moved up onto a proper dune at that same location. Congratulations, everyone.

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Off to check out another set of tracks at 57th Ave.

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   She crawled up, over and then under the walkway fence.

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We couldn't fine the egg chamber so this will go into the books as a False Crawl....Meanwhile up in Wild Dunes another interesting set of tracks were found.

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Eggs were not found, BUT maybe she was just too clever for us. The area was marked and will be watched.

Maybe she will be back tomorrow...fingers crossed!

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Nest #45 for IOP

July 3, 2024

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Nest #45 was laid this morning several lots north of 21st Avenue. Linda Dunne, Linda Wales and Doug and Becky Dale discovered tracks that wandered up into the dunes and back down again where she laid 111 eggs on the flat beach below the spring tide line and in the path of the vehicles that drive on the beach.

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It was a beautiful morning and Jo's birthday with a rainbow in the sky and rain showers up the coast, down the coast and offshore.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JO !!!!

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This very large turtle possibly came ashore a couple of nights ago making three false crawls at 26A, 40th and 46th Avenues with the same size tracks and getting up into the dunes at 26A. This time, she crawled back down onto the flat beach to nest. She was still on the beach when the sun came up but only about a dozen feet from the ocean, looking very tired and resting. When she started for the surf, we scanned her for embedded PIT tags and looked for flipper tags. But measuring her shell length and width proved to be difficult because she was on the move! After getting her 105 cm length (over 4 feet), we were unable to get her width to put into her nesting report online because she got into the water. She was like a 300 lb. tank, very strong and determined with no stopping for measurements. She was obviously relieved to swim back to her home and get away from all those people.

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False Crawls on IOP & Nest #2 & #3 for Sullivan's

July 2, 2024

Loggerheads came ashore 4 times at the inlets last night near all four ends of both of our islands.

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There was a false crawl in Dewees Inlet at the very north end of IOP and another false crawl in Breach Inlet at the very south end of IOP.

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But the BIG NEWS is that there were two nests laid on the extreme ends Sullivan's Island:

Nest #2 for Sullivan's 

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Nest #2 was found just west of the Nature Trail path at Station 16 and discovered by Paula Brady and Neil Hunt. The loggerhead mom was still on the beach after laying 115 eggs down on the flat beach far below the spring tide line where huge container ships push up large waves as they pass. Paula was able to get some pictures of her as she made her way back to the ocean.

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The eggs were moved higher at that same location near Station 16 in the hope that they will survive.

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Nest #3 for Sullivan's 

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Nest #3 was laid at the very north end of Sullivan's Island at 3019 Marshall Blvd in the eroded part close to Breach Inlet.

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This is in the path of the Army Corps of Engineers project scheduled to begin next month where sand will be pumped ashore. Already there are signs that the tide has gone up to and under the houses in that block.

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This area is also outside of our patrol section which stops at Station 29, so our volunteers had no way to find it. It is very rare to have nests in that area. There were 113 eggs in that nest, and they were taken to Station 16 to incubate near Nest #2.

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Relocating #3 at Station 16.

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115 Eggs Nest #2 and 113 Eggs Nest #3

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Three False Crawls and a Turtle on the Beach

Nest #44 for IOP

July 1, 2024

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Photo by Mary Paige Adams

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During the night there were three different crawls on the IOP. Marsha King, Sue Harris and Elyse Basil reported one set of tracks at the 26A path. This turtle travelled all the way up to the dry dunes and would have had a great spot for a nest, but she did not dig or make a body pit, just pushed down some dune grasses and kept going occasionally getting bogged down in the dry soft sand. The tide line showed that this crawl was made early in the night before the tide was low.

Then at 40th Ave, Linda Forslund, Lori Nelson, Liz Hartzell and Patti Porfelli found more tracks that were the same size. These tracks stopped in the flat part of the beach where the service trucks drive and were also made fairly early in the night and again before high tide. She crawled extensively and looped around several times before going back to the ocean.

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Finally, Linda's group came across a very tired and very large loggerhead whose shell was 102 cms or 40 inches long. After having some ocean water poured on her, she started to move toward the water. These tracks were approximately the same as the first two crawls so it was possibly this same turtle who tried three times in that area and never did lay her eggs.

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We never know why loggerheads crawl ashore without laying a nest. These are false crawls #28, #29 and #30 for the IOP. It could be that she was disturbed by lights or by people. It is important to remember to stay away from nesting sea turtles and not shine lights on her or make noise. Even when they have finished nesting and are crawling back to the ocean, they should be given a clear path to get there without interference. However, the Turtle Team is directed by SCDNR to measure the shell and scan for imbedded tags as well as look for metal flipper tags before they leave. We hope she will return and find a spot that suits her better.

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Nest #43 & #44 for Isle of Palms

June 30, 2024

Another double nest day on the Isle of Palms.

Three loggerheads really had to struggle last night to avoid manmade problems on the Isle of Palms.

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Nest #43

This nest was laid right at the vehicular access path at 9th Avenue. Kathy Kowalchick and Susan Lipsey were the first ones to discover and report this finding, but we were not able to get Kathy's picture as she continued her walk up to 30th Ave. Michelle Ziegler also was on patrol and saw them. She crawled up to the yellow and blue trash and recycling cans bumping into them as well. Since this is in the renourishment project area and relocation is mandatory, they were taken to a good dune in the 2700 block of Palm Blvd.

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This turtle bumped into the nest sign and sticks that were put there for a possible nest where no eggs were found on June 19 knocking everything down and trampling the spot.

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At first the signs did not look as if she laid any eggs, but we did probe anyway and were able to find a soft spot where 99 eggs were buried right next to one of the yellow cans.

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Nest #44

Meanwhile up at Beachwood East in Wild Dunes during the night a loggerhead climbed up over the sandbags that were there to prevent further erosion, encountered a large rock and a house foundation but was able to lay 134 eggs in a space between 15 and 16 Beachwood East. Mary Stork found these tracks along with Gillian and Richard Ellis on patrol. The sand is very soft due to sand being scraped and dumped in that area to save the houses. This makes it difficult to probe and find the egg chamber but fortunately the eggs were located and moved also to a suitable place in the 2700 block of Palm.

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Jo was waiting for the eggs to arrive after preparing two nests.

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Nest #41& #42 for Isle of Palms

June 26, 2024

Another double nest day on the Isle of Palms.

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Nest #41 was laid at the 8A Access Path. Karen Thompson and Penny Huebsch Smith were on patrol with Karen covering the north end and Penny the south. The large tracks showed that this turtle was a big girl and that she was up at the base of the primary dune for a long time laying eggs. She laid a bumper crop of 162 of them! As usual the turtles choose the sand renourishment construction area to nest. The eggs were so deep in the sand that it was hard to reach the bottom ones. These eggs were relocated to 28th Avenue to join many more there. Penny and Karen also found a false crawl at the 5th Avenue vehicular access path where a similar sized loggerhead make a quick turnaround without digging.

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Some happy visitors came out to see what the Turtle Team was doing.

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This nest was probably twice as deep as the average.

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Nest #42

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Nest #42 was found by Aelecia Rideout and Cindy Keane near the 53rd Avenue Access path. This turtle struggled to climb a chopped off dune that created a wall about 21/2 feet before continuing on where the beach is wide and flat. She laid 139 eggs that were also moved to 28th Avenue.

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She crawled.....and crawled......

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Checking out the tracks and body pit. Giving our newest member of the core team some advice.

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Here......................................Maybe

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Always good to have the help of friends

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Both of today's nests were safely relocated to 28th Ave.  

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Nest #40 for Isle of Palms

June 25, 2024

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Last night a loggerhead traversed the wide flat beach in Wild Dunes to lay 106 eggs at Port O Call. Cindy Bergstrom, Patti Horton, Tristi Lowther and Paige Owens discovered this nest which was relocated to 28th Avenue in the center of the island.

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First step is to measure the tracks and study the field signs.

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Next, carefully probe for a "soft spot" and then dig by hand to find the eggs.

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Off to 28th Ave.to safely relocate Nest 40

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Five more days in June and already 40 nests...bring'm on!

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Nest #39 for Isle of Palms

June 24, 2024

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Carolyn Eshelman and Kristen Ayers discovered loggerhead tracks at the north end of Ocean Club Villas near the 18th hole of the Links Course this morning. This was a normal sized turtle with 22" inches between rear flipper claw marks in an area that sometimes sees erosion later in the nesting season. There were 139 eggs that were relocated to 28th Avenue.

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There were 139 eggs that were relocated to 28th Avenue.

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Nest #38 for Isle of Palms

June 23, 2024

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Today's Sunday nest was laid at the bend at Breach Inlet in front of 108 Ocean Blvd. This turtle may have been the one seen at Station 28 on Sullivan's in the edge of the surf around 9 pm last night. Jenn Connell and Susan Lipsey were amazed to see that she came in near high tide early in the night because her incoming tracks were barely noticeable, but her outgoing tracks were as long as 50 yards to the water. This means she spent a very long time up against the steep dune escarpment where she crawled along and then laid her 122 eggs. The top eggs were only about 4 inches below the surface, but fortunately none got broken from probing. They surely would have been killed by the next tide that reached the nest, not to mention the renourishment project there.

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The eggs were saved by moving them to 28th Avenue.

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Present and Future Turtle Ladies

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Just before sunrise at Breach Inlet

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Nest #36 & #37 for Isle of Palms

June 22, 2024

A long and busy morning for the team with a large loggerhead nesting on a busy beach in Wild Dunes!

Nest #36

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This nest was discovered just south of the 8th Avenue path by Angela Koffler, Julia Vanderpool and Nancy Willms. This loggerhead mom climbed up into the dunes and found a very good spot to lay her eggs. In a normal year, this would have been a nest left "in situ" or where it was laid. However, under SCDNR rules, it had to be moved out of the pending sand renourishment section from 10th Avenue to Breach Inlet. Such a shame to have to move the eggs when she chose such a good spot. It was a very confusing and elongated disturbed area with broken buried green vegetation at one end and thrown sand at the other end 10-12 feet away. It turned out the eggs were at the end with the thrown sand, but these are both significant field signs we need to see. Because of this it took us over an hour to find the location of the eggs, but finally 125 of them were discovered and moved to 28th Avenue to join a lot of other nests that have been laid in this section.

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Nest #37

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The Turtle Team got to watch and protect a "Big Girl" this morning

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She's done laying and covering her nest. Time for the long trip back home. 

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Loggerheads nest at night and rarely in the bright sunlight. Around 7 am people and dogs were out on our public beach. Penny Gorby and Eileen Montanero were on patrol at Ocean Point at the north end of Wild Dunes when they saw one on the beach just beginning the process. They kept people and dogs away from her until other team members arrived. She was measured and checked for flipper tags and protected until she could get back to the ocean. Barb G had her granddaughter, Vera, visiting and she got to see the whole wonderful spectacle. There were 135 eggs in this nest that were relocated to 28th Avenue.  

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Time to collect some stats for for DNR....Measure her and check for tags

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One last chance to create some memories and photos.

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Last job is to collect the eggs and move them to a safe location.

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Both nests from today were relocated to 28th Ave.

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Another busy morning on the beach. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. 

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Nest #35 for Isle of Palms

June 21, 2024  

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Once again, a loggerhead chose the renourishment site to lay her eggs during the night. This one was at 6th Avenue at the foot of a huge scarped dune. We had seen these tracks with the missing Left Rear Flipper claw mark on the tracks earlier in June in Wild Dunes. It was a small clutch of 96 eggs, many fewer than the average number of 127 eggs that we have had so far this season. This nest was relocated by necessity to 28th Avenue for a safe incubation.  

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Tracks for Nest 35. Some wind blown but still visible.  

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Turtle Team patrols passing on the beach path  

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Nest #33 & #34 for Isle of Palms

June 20, 2024  

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Ed Peyser was fortunate to have not one but two nests on his patrol this morning, what a day!

Four loggerheads came ashore last night and amazingly their tracks all measured 24" with two nesting in the 400 and 500 block of Ocean Blvd. There were false crawls just north of County Park on IOP and at Station 26 on Sullivans. We also had to leave what we think might be a nest at the 9th Avenue path yesterday. We probed for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening without finding an egg chamber and it was very frustrating. So we had to mark it as a "Possible Nest - no eggs found." It is not in a good spot and may get flooded at the next extra high tide, but we did all we could. With multiple probers both times we put in 16 hours of labor to no avail looking for those eggs.

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Nest #33 was laid right in the Access Path at 4th Avenue exactly where Nest #26 was found six days ago. This clutch was so deep that we had trouble reaching the bottom eggs that were at least two feet down. One probe stick in the empty hole was up to the handle. There were 127 in the clutch, and because of the looming renourishment project that never seems to begin, we had to move them to a good dune at 28th Avenue.

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Nest #34 was only about a block north at 506 Ocean Blvd and contained 103 eggs. These were also taken to 28th Avenue. It is amazing that our turtles are still favoring the two places that the eggs cannot stay - south of the pier and at a certain area of Wild Dunes where emergency sand scraping and dumping because of erosion is ongoing this season.  

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Both nests were relocated to 28th Ave.

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Nest #31 for Isle of Palms

June 18, 2024  

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Another busy night for our loggerheads and another busy morning for the Turtle Team

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Nest #31 was discovered this morning by Leslee Gordon and Penny Lanigan at 42nd Avenue. It was fortunate that the coyotes that live at that path did not discover the turtle laying her eggs during the night. There were 140 in this clutch of eggs that were relocated off the flat beach to a proper dune at 28th Avenue.

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The sand was very soft and the eggs were only about 12 inches deep  

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Teaching the next generation about turtle conservation  

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Nest #32 for Isle of Palms

June 18, 2024  

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Nest #32 was found by Karen Novak who was alone on patrol this morning. The Waller family from Marietta GA were surprised and delighted when they saw this turtle laying eggs up against the porch and foundation of 19 Beachwood East during the night. This is an artificial berm of sand that has been scraped up from the low tide line as part of an emergency project to save the houses there from erosion damage. We found 148 eggs in this one that were relocated to a spot next to Nest #31 at 28th Avenue since they would not have survived where they were laid. 

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The Waller family from Marietta Ga.

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Both nests were carefully relocated to safe dunes at 28th Ave. Buckle up!  

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Precious Cargo and Turtle Team Tools

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Nest #1 for Sullivan's Island

June 16, 2024  

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At last a loggerhead nested on Sullivan's Island! Haley Bailey was very excited to find tracks right at the Station 17 "Jungle Path" this morning. Haley has a birthday day after tomorrow which sometimes falls on Fathers' Day, so this is an early and wonderful present for her to celebrate. The turtle laid 114 eggs right up against an eroded or "scarped" dune where the wakes from large container ships entering and leaving the harbor wash over the beach frequently. We found a safer place on a gently sloped dune nearby slightly to the southwest and relocated the eggs there after finding one oval one that resembled a chicken egg.  

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Nest #28 for IOP

June 15, 2024  

Unbelievably, we now have 30 nests on the Isle of Palms which is double what we usually have by this time. This morning our volunteers found three more at the south end, the middle of the island and also in Wild Dunes. It is likely that none of these three would have survived to hatch if they had not been relocated.

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Nest #28

This is the tenth nest laid south of 10th Avenue in the coming renourishment project area - a third of the total. It was discovered by Julia Vanderpool, Angela Koffler and Nancy Willms up against the dune walkover steps at 708 Ocean Boulevard, and it was at the foot of the steeply eroded dune. The upcoming sand project would have destroyed it under many cubic yards of new sand. It contained 132 eggs that were relocated in the 2800 block of Palm Blvd.  

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Nest #29 for IOP

June 15, 2024

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Nest #29

Bev Miller, Carol Gaston and Cindy Judy found nest #29 on the wide flat section of beach near 43rd Avenue. This was a rather small clutch of only 86 eggs even though the tracks measured exactly the same as the mother of the larger clutch at the 7A path above. This nest would have been washed over by tide or driven over by the service and police vehicles that drive on the beach. So these eggs were also taken to the 2800 block.

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Nest #30 for IOP

June 15, 2024  

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Nest #30

Liz Firestone and April Nesbitt were covering this section of Wild Dunes when they spotted tracks at 4 Dunecrest Lane. This turtle climbed up onto the steep berm of scraped that had been deposited there by the city in an emergency attempt to save the houses from erosion damage. She had to battle her way over a downed sand fence to get to a clear spot to dig her nest. Several of the 111 eggs she laid were conjoined double ones that were connected by their shells. One of these double eggs was found broken in the clutch, so the shell of one of these two was used for our genetics sample. Since more sand will be deposited there by large machinery, this clutch was also taken to 28th Avenue for incubation.

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All three nests had to be relocated.  

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Hot, sandy and tired the "Beach Crew" gets ready to leave the beach.  

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Nest #26 for IOP

June 14, 2024  

Two more nests were laid on the Isle of Palms last night and a third turtle false crawled at Beachwood East in Wild Dunes, hitting the sandbags at the high tide line and turning around without digging. June 14, 2024  

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Nest #26 was laid right at the 4th Avenue Access Path. Helen Sullivan, Sallie Campbell and Eileen Dulany were on patrol working their way south from 9th Avenue and picking up lots of trash on the way. This loggerhead had average size tracks but laid a bumper crop of 155 beautiful eggs. Since they were in the upcoming renourishment project section, they were moved to a dune just north of 28th Avenue.  

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Perfect set of tracks  

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Nest #27 for IOP 

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Nest #27 was found by Sue Hogan as well as Bill and Stephanie Evans with their daughter Sophie on the flat beach two doors north of 44th Avenue. This one contained 133 eggs and was relocated also to near 28th Avenue. We hope both of these nests will do well and produce lots of hatchlings in August.

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Morning's work done with the nest relocated  

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Nest #24 & #25 for IOP

June 12, 2024  

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Another two nest day for Wild Dunes.

Nest #24: Last night the Turtle Team got word that a turtle was laying eggs at Mariners Walk around 9 pm. It turned out that she was actually at Beach Club Villas near the Property Owners House laying them down on the flat part of the beach below the spring tide line. After she finished nesting her shell was measured at 94 cms in length which was the same as the loggerhead who laid Nest #17 at Sea Cabins on June 7. She was scanned for internal tags and checked for flipper tags but had none of either. This morning Gina and Doug McQuilken with their rescue huskie Luna discovered the tracks there on their patrol. These eggs were located right away on the first probe since we knew where she had hidden them from watching her.

Nest #25: But then Gina and Doug saw more tracks at the boardwalk (or what is left of the boardwalk) at Ocean Club Villas where the two turtles nests so close together yesterday. This one made a body pit up against a scarped dune in an old wrack line where the egg chamber was a challenge to find. But when we did find it, we were surprised to find a bumper crop of 158 large healthy eggs. This is the largest clutch of the season to date.

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The heavy bucket of 158 eggs was given a ride to Mary's car this morning.  

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Both of today's nests were relocated.  

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Nest #22 & #23 for IOP

June 11, 2024  

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After a loggerhead with a missing right rear flipper claw and 24" wide tracks made two false crawls at Ocean Club Villas night before last, she apparently returned to the same place last night and brought a friend who laid eggs less than 10 feet from her nest! Nest #22 was spotted first by Paige Owens at Ocean Club Villas who was walking with Cindy Bergstrom, Tristi Lowther and Patti Horton at the north end of the Isle of Palms. Then this group of Turtle Team members, saw another nest as well. Amazingly there were two sets of tracks very close together with two separate body pits where eggs were laid only 9 feet apart on the beach out from the Ocean Club swimming pool between the tall buildings. This nest proximity on the same night rarely happens since loggerheads are solitary nesters. It is a good thing that the second turtle to nest did not damage the first one's eggs. Nest #22 contained 138 eggs and Nest #23 contained 137 eggs, Both were relocated to a dune above the spring tide line in the 2800 block of Palm Blvd.

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The two nests were within 10 feet of each other,  

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The original egg chamber.........................The relocated nest  

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The nests were safely relocated at 28th Ave.  

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Nest #21 for IOP

June 8, 2024  

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Nest #21 was relocated just south of 29th Avenue.

Linda Tucker and Liz Firestone were on patrol and are credited with this nest.  

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Nest #21: This morning there were three false non-nesting crawls and only one nest. These tracks were at 38 A, 45th and 53rd Avenues and all of them showed that a small loggerhead had come ashore, unless there were more than one small nester involved. Then at last at the farthest north location which was 58th Avenue at the busy Wild Dunes Resort Access Path, it appeared that she FINALLY laid her clutch of 128 eggs.

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False Crawl at 53rd Ave.  

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Nest #16, #17, #18, #19, #20 For IOP...WHEW!

June 7, 2024  

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Five Nests in one Night and two False Crawls! Our nesting project has never had more than 4 nests in one night, and only once have there been four. But last night was a very big night for our loggerhead mothers.

It all started so normally for the Turtle Team. Turned into a record day!  

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Nest #16:

Dan Cohen lives at 616 Ocean Blvd and has always been a helpful friend to the Island Turtle Team, whether it is getting the houses on his block darkened for nesting mothers and hatchlings or letting us relocate nests onto his dunes. Last night was no exception when he acted as a midwife or rather a "midhusband" for a loggerhead mom who decided to lay eggs at the bottom of his dune walkover steps. Alex Cummings and his friends were celebrating their graduation from Marvin Ridge High School in NC, and they spotted the turtle nesting at Dan's boardwalk. They alerted Dan of their concern for her and then called the SCDNR Hotline to report it. Dan and these polite and conscientious young men guarded her from being disturbed as she went about becoming a mother again. In the morning Turtle Team members Joanne Robinson and Helen Sullivan discovered these windblown tracks and helped count the 129 eggs as they were moved from this area because of the upcoming renourishment project to the 2900 block of Palm Blvd.

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NEST 17

Another turtle was on the beach in the busy front beach area at midnight laying eggs at the south section of Sea Cabins. Adrianna, who was visiting from Michigan, alerted the IOPPD of this so that our team could protect her while she nested. When we arrived, she was already covering her nest of 104 eggs. The spot was marked so they could be found six hours later when the sun rose. She was checked for flipper tags, embedded tags and measured as she finally crawled back to toward the surf. Her shell was an amazing 94 cms in length and 82 cms in width, a very big girl! Her eggs were carefully relocated farther north off the flat beach that washes over in flood tides and has many people from the bars and restaurants during the summer season.

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Nest #18:

The mother of Dan's nest #16 must have had a friend with her last night. Another nest was laid a few doors from #16 near the 7th Ave Access Path. So Joanne and Helen scored two nests today. This turtle's tracks were about 6" narrower than #16's tracks nearby, and she laid 104 eggs, also in the renourishment project area. A genetics sample was taken and the eggs were moved to the 2900 block of Palm as well.  

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Nest #19:

Faint tracks were found and reported by Mary Stork on the flat beach near Summer Dunes Lane in Wild Dunes. There were 122 eggs in this nest which were taken to an elevated dune near Beach Club Villas and the Wild Dunes Property Owners' House.

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Nest #20:

This nest illustrates the importance of removing chairs and other objects from the beach at night. Louise Martin found the tracks of this loggerhead who nested here struggled among folding beach chairs but managed to nest laying 123 eggs near 57th Avenue. PLEASE always remove your belongings from the beach at night. The Isle of Palms has a law that prohibits this overnight clutter. In Florida not long ago a turtle was found entangled in a beach chair, such a shame. This nest was also relocated to the area of Beach Club Villas to incubate. The false crawls were at Seagrove where a turtle climbed a pretty steep escarpment wall of sand, just south of 53rd Avenue and near the 33A Access Path.

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All of today's nests had to be relocated. The team relocates the eggs and then marks and protects each nest with signs, screening and orange tape. Lots of digging, hammering and counting each clutch of eggs.

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Nest #15 For IOP

June 6, 2024  

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This morning Elyse Basil and her daughter Lira had agreed to substitute in the south section of the Isle of Palms. Little did they know it would be a dark, rainy morning on the beach. Only a half block into their walk they spotted loggerhead tracks at the 8A Access Path that were faint from the heavy rain a couple of hours earlier with drizzle continuing. This was a very large loggerhead who managed to climb up onto a perfect dune and bury 138 eggs deep in the sand. How disappointing to have to move them because of the renourishment project up to 10th Avenue this summer. One loggerhead finally chose a good spot off the flat beach. It took a long time to find the eggs. We were thinking the whole area of a possible nest had been covered by probing, but finally Christel saved the day and found the large clutch deeply buried. There were also two marble sized "spacer" eggs that we sometimes see that can be a product of excess calcium in a turtle's body. They do not contain yolks and no embryos would develop, but they are interesting to see. These eggs were relocated in a new location near 29th Avenue for incubation with a genetics sample taken and a screen for protection from coyotes.

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Relocated at 29th Ave.

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Nest #14 For IOP

June 2, 2024  

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Nest #14 for the Isle of Palms was found by Jenn Connell at 520 Ocean Blvd this morning. This turtle crawled quite a way up to the dune that has been chopped off by erosion to lay her 104 eggs at the foot of the escarpment. Just as we have relocated all of the other nests laid at the south end of the island this season, we were required to move this one because of the upcoming renourishment project. The nest was relocated to a suitable dune just north of the 29th Avenue path.

 

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Relocating at 29th  

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Rae Ann's wonderful photo this morning. She's wondering where the Sullivan's Island turtles are?.

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Nest #11 #12 #13 for IOP

June 1, 2024

The Turtle Team was very busy on this first Day of June with three new nests and two false crawls, all on the Isle of Palms. The false crawls were at Dunecrest Lane in Wild Dunes and halfway between 42nd and 43rd Avenues.  

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Nest #11 was found by Erin Trent and Linda Wales two doors north of the path at 29th Avenue. A dog had gotten into the body pit and dug a hole, throwing sand around which really messed up the field signs we needed to find the egg chamber buried below. But we did locate a huge clutch of 155 eggs, the biggest nest of the season so far. These were moved up off the flat beach where trucks drive to an elevated dune at that same location.

Nest #12 was found by Liz Firestone and her daughters Avery and Merritt along with Linda Tucker and April Nesbitt on patrol. This was near Seagrove, just north of the Grand Pavilion houses in Wild Dunes. It contained 127 eggs that were relocated to 29th Avenue not far from Nest #12.

Nest #13 was laid at 608 Ocean Blvd in the renourishment project area with work set to begin soon and found by Julia Vanderpool and Nancy Willms. Those eggs were laid very close to a dune walkover and there were 147 of them, another large clutch. They were required to be moved before the construction of new dunes starts, so they were also taken to join the other two for incubation near 29th Avenue.

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Beach patrol find the tracks. The core team comes out to determine whether there is a nest.

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Once the eggs are located we determined they must be relocated to a safe part of the beach.

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One egg shell is prepared to be the DNA sample we take from every nest.

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New nests are prepared and the eggs are carefully relocated. Every egg is counted. Then signs and protective screening are installed.

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Three new nests safe and sound!

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Nest #10 For IOP

May 31, 2024  

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The last day of May was quite exciting for our Turtle Team. The south end of the island is severely eroded with a steep wall where the tide eats away at the artificial berm of sand that the City of Isle of Palms maintains to protect the houses while we wait for the major sand renourishment project this summer. Karen Thomas-Burbee who is visiting the island from the Rock Hill SC area, discovered several loggerhead eggs at 3rd Avenue exposed on the pedestrian path and several more broken eggs down on the beach. Karen contacted us by using the QR code on that path's Turtle Sign. Joanne Robinson, Jeannie Yzquierdo and Helen Sullivan had already finished their Friday morning patrol search for loggerhead tracks. But there were no tracks or any of the usual field signs of a nest such as a body pit, thrown sand and of course no two foot tracks.

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We knew there was a nest because of the exposed eggs and broken shells but thought perhaps a well-meaning person had put them up on the path to save them. So we instead concentrated on probing any disturbed spots down on the flat beach up against the steep escarpment of sand where the broken shells were found. The sand was soft and our probe sticks went all the way into it in many places. We had all but given up when Jessica Strahan who lives at 3rd and Charleston Blvd walked up the path, where we had probed the downward slope and felt something underneath the sand with her bare foot. The eggs were at the very top of the path very close to the surface. At first glance we though these eggs were fresh, but there is a possibility that they had been laid earlier in May and had just been exposed at the very top of the downhill path when people repeatedly walked over them eroding the sand. What an extraordinary find as Jessica and Karen held the bucket containing the rescued clutch of pure white eggs. This nest would have been destroyed by heavy equipment and buried under many feet of sand if the eggs had not been discovered.   

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Nest #8 For IOP

May 27, 2024  

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The first call came from Carolyn Eshelman when she and Kristen Ayers reported tracks at Port O'Call in Wild Dunes where Nest #1 was found on May 16. This nest contained 143 eggs that were shallow under the surface. Todd's first time to probe for eggs was successful with none broken. They were moved off the flat washed over section of the beach to a safe dune nearby at the Wild Dunes Property Owner's Beach house.  

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False Crawl #6 For IOP

Then Linda Forslund, Liz Hartzell and Patti Porfelli found tracks at 48th Avenue farther south on the beach. This turtle did not succeed in laying eggs there and instead left an open hole that she had dug for her eggs and circled around before going back into the ocean. It is possible that she was interrupted and disturbed by people on the beach early in the night during this busy holiday weekend. If a loggerhead has not finished digging her egg chamber and started laying her eggs, she is likely to abort her nesting effort. That is why the public is asked to stay away from a nesting loggerhead while she is still preparing her egg chamber. At least no coyote tracks were there, so that was not an issue. 

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Nest #9 For IOP

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Almost at the end of their walk, Linda, Liz and Patti found another set of tracks, also low on the beach where official vehicles drive, at the 30A Access Path. These tracks measured the same as False Crawl #6 above and the tide had gone out for several more hours more than the shorter tracks at 48th Avenue. We suspect that this may have been the same loggerhead coming back for another try. This time there were 146 eggs buried and a perfect body pit. The eggs were kept at that location and moved up onto a dune just north of the 30A path with Linda's group helping us.

Happy Memorial Day to all!  

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Nest #7 For IOP

May 26, 2024  

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Gillian and Richard Ellis had an amazing find at the south end path of Beachwood East in Wild Dunes this morning. A loggerhead scaled the exposed rock wall there near Seagrove to lay her 111 eggs. She needed to have rock climbing gear to accomplish this, but she managed to do it by herself, hauling her large heavy body over the granite boulders. We hope she did not scrape up her plastron as she crawled up and laid her eggs right in the access path and then bounced back down to the beach below! Gillian and Richard are a father/daughter team who find lots of nests at Beachwood and Dunecrest Lanes where erosion is now extreme. The Turtle Team was not sure at first that there was an egg chamber there and that this wasn't just a false crawl, but the eggs were found buried among some granite boulders that were still under the sand. What an amazing feat for a very determined loggerhead mom! The eggs were carefully removed with only one broken and used for our required genetics sample. They were taken to a dune at the Wild Dunes Property Owners

Beach House nearby which is undergoing renovation. We are always sad to see the large amount of invasive and non-native Beach Vitex growing on the dunes at Beach Club Villas when we walk down the access path next to the Owners' Beach House. This was supposed to have been eradicated years ago but has returned.

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Katie, from Durham came across the Turtle Team and was happy to help with the nest.  

 

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The nest was moved to a safe place at the Property Owners' Beach House

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Nest #6 For IOP & a False Crawl on SI

May 24, 2024  

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This morning Bill Evans found Nest #6 near 41st Avenue on the Isle of Palms. This turtle barely made it above the high tide line where she laid 84 eggs which is a smaller than average clutch. The sand there was extra coarse, possibly because it is some that was pumped ashore in the large renourishment project nearby in 2018 and has migrated slightly down the coast. One egg was attached to a marble sized glob that looked like a miniature egg. This sometimes happens when there is extra calcium in a sea turtle’s body when the eggs are receiving their shells in her oviduct. The eggs were kept at 41st Avenue but relocated higher up on the beach on a suitable dune where they can survive and hatch.

Meanwhile on Sullivan's Island June Bianchi reported tracks two doors north of Station 25. This is the first loggerhead activity on Sullivan's Island, and we are hoping to have a nest there soon. Maybe she will return tonight to lay eggs?

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Nice body pit. Mary probed and quickly found the eggs  

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On the way off the beach on the 42nd Avenue Access Path we saw a large coyote standing under the dune walkover at Alcy Whisnant's house just north of the path. It appeared to be settling down in the deep brush to sleep during the day. It was a good thing we put a protective screen over the sand where the eggs are buried. The coyote siting was reported to the IOP police for their records.

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The eggs were safely moved inland at 41st

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Nest #5 For IOP

May 23, 2024  

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Our loggerheads are trying to nest and sometimes actually nesting in the active renourishment areas near Breach Inlet and in Wild Dunes. Someone needs to tell them to go where there are actual dunes! There was a false crawl at 212 Ocean Blvd where sand is being scraped at low tide and dumped there almost every day. This turtle did not lay any eggs and it was recorded as False Crawl #5. But another loggerhead decided to lay her eggs for NEST #5 where sand is now being dumped under an emergency permit to protect the houses at Beachwood East and Dunecrest Lane in Wild Dunes that are in critical danger. She was able to get to the top of this new artificially created berm to nest. Deborah Johnson discovered these tracks at the southernmost front beach house on Dunecrest while Kasey O'Neil covered the other half of their section from 49th to the POBH.

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The problem with this newly dumped or pumped in sand is that it has not compacted yet, so our technique of locating the egg chamber with fiberglass probe sticks permitted by SCDNR is worthless because the soft fluffy sand gives in causing the stick to go all the way to the hilt at every spot that is probed. It took three people digging the large body pit the turtle made by hand for a long time before Barb G found the eggs that were deposited very deep in the sand. They were so deep that the team was lying flat and almost not able to reach the eggs with faces in the sand to reach and remove the 137 eggs but none were damaged.

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It was a relief to save all of these eggs because they would either have been destroyed by the erosional tides or they would have been buried under so much emergency sand dumping that they could not have dug themselves to the surface. Fortunately, they were moved to a safe spot at 3010 Palm Blvd for incubation.

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#5 Safely Relocated At 30A 

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Nest #4 For IOP

May 21, 2024  

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Another nest was found in the renourishment project area at the south end of IOP this morning. The ocean was covering several blocks at high tide early this morning, so our patrol volunteers could not get there, and any nests laid at low tide had had already been flooded and destroyed anyway. But the loggerhead who laid Nest #4 for us did find enough dry beach so that Ellen Gower, Ellen Thomas and Jodie Morgan, along with Lynn Holgate and Jessica Strahan, reported the tracks and body pit farther north between 4th and 5th Avenues. We located 139 eggs in the clutch under the sand and took them to a safe dune so they would not be destroyed and buried by the construction on the beach later in the season. Ellen Thomas and Jodie made it to the new nest site to help us. We are glad we were able to save this nest and wish the turtles would nest farther north where the nests need to be, and the dunes are suitable.

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Eggs moved from nest at 4A..............and deposited safely at 30A  

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Nest #2 and #3 For IOP

May 18, 2024  

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Night time nester...please NO flash photography. You may disturb her and cause her to false crawl  

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Nest #2:

We got an early start with a message from Jesse Orr who was bicycling at 2nd Ave at 3 am and saw a mother loggerhead laying her eggs on the newly scraped artificial dune at 201 Ocean Blvd. We need to remind the public that flash photography should NOT be used around nesting turtles because this could cause them to go back into the ocean without laying. We only use infra-red or night vision cameras. This location is where we are expecting the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the Beneficial Use Project of pumping sand from dredge spoils areas in the ICW into the intertidal zone of the beach between 2nd and 10th Avenues on the Isle of Palms. Fortunately this turtle was able to climb well up onto the berm and lay her 135 eggs deep in the sand and it was compacted enough so that we could easily find the spot they were buried by probing. Angela Koffler, with her husband Ken, and Julia Vanderpool were delighted to discover this nest on their Saturday morning patrol and went with us to relocated these eggs near the 30A Access path after the sun rose. We are thankful to Ken for carrying this bucket of large and heavy eggs to the car and then to the new nest site. We cannot leave eggs in that section south of 10th Ave because they would be buried and destroyed by the project which should begin next month.

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Nest #3

Meanwhile Carol, Gaston, Aelecia Rideout (accompanied by Bev Miller), Cindy Judy, Paul and Rita Koisch found yet another loggerhead nest near 48th Avenue. This one laid even more eggs - 143. Two were found broken by sharp seashells in the very bottom of the clutch of eggs. One of those eggshells was used for our genetics research project to identify the mother turtle. This batch of eggs was also relocated off the flat beach to a suitable dune at 30A with a genetic sample taken. It is getting very hard to find safe nesting dunes due to erosion and King Tide cycles that flood the beach,and now a renourishment project as well.

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We are off to a very good start. It's rare to get multiple nests on one night this early in the season.

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Nest # 1 Wild Dunes

May 16, 2024  

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It's always exciting when the first loggerhead comes ashore and lays eggs on our beach. This morning Bryan Stephens and Allen Owens spotted tracks and a body pit where eggs were laid in Wild Dunes at Port O'Call. Holly Barron and Laura Lovins were covering the other half of this section. This loggerhead laid 105 eggs plus one very small yolkless egg deep in the sand with a downward slope and some wrack behind it toward the condos. The viable eggs were taken to a proper dune at the Wild Dunes Property Owners' Beach House for safe incubation with a screen over them to protect from coyote predation. This was a nice birthday present for Barb Gobien who probed for the eggs that were buried very deeply below the surface.

The 2024 SEASON HAS BEGUN!

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Happy Birthday! Barb Gobien  

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