Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island


Last nest of the season inventoried on IOP

September 24, 2015 


The weather was not great for the last inventory – cloudy & overcast, but the results certainly were. Faithful Cindy Moore was the only Turtle Team member who was there besides those of us conducting the inventory. We found 96 empty shells, 5 undeveloped eggs, one dead hatchling and three live hatchlings still in the nest. So hatch success was 94.1%. It was a good way to end the season.

Thank you all so much!







Nests #27 & #28 Inventoried on IOP

September 8, 2015 


Nest # 27 laid on the Cedar Creek Spit in Dewees Inlet belonged to the female loggerhead who is so very faithful to that northernmost area of this island. She has been recorded as nesting 14 times in 2011, 2013, and 2015. And 12 out of those 14 times were right there at Ocean Point or Dewees Inlet! The other two were on Bull Island and at the condo area of Wild Dunes. She nested there 5 times this season and is a good example of one of those turtles who does return to almost the same spot to nest every time. This final nest of hers was small with only 74 eggs laid and relocated to 32nd Avenue. There were no live or dead hatchlings and 7 undeveloped eggs. Along with the sample egg we took, this comes to an 89.1% hatch success.

Nest #28 laid at the Beachside complex just north of County Park and moved higher out of the flat part of the beach belonged to the turtle we called "The Wanderer" who walked for hours on the sandbar at Sullivan's Island before finally laying Nest #1 there. Most of her 5 nests laid this season were at the south end of the Isle of Palms and she was responsible for most of those nests that we had near 3rd Avenue along the Ocean Blvd area of the beach. So her final nest at Beachside was the farthest north that she laid eggs. With only 2 undeveloped eggs, no live or dead hatchlings out of the total of 125, this nest had a wonderful 97.6% hatch success.


Nests #25 Inventoried on IOP

September 3, 2015 


Nest #25 was very healthy with only 3 eggs undeveloped and 3 live hatchlings left in the nest who were released by Judy Ewing and Aelecia Rideout. Hatch success was 96.3% for an excellent outcome. We wish they were all this good.



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Nests #22 & #23 Inventoried on IOP

August 30, 2015 


The rain let up nicely for our Sunday morning inventories. Here are the results:

Nest #22 which incubated in situ and had turtles emerge on Aug 24th had 90 empty shells, 8 undeveloped eggs, and 3 live hatchlings with 90.9% hatch success.

Nest #23 which was laid the same night and 138 eggs relocated to 53rd from 56th Avenue had 75 empty shells, 60 undeveloped eggs, 4 live hatchlings, and 2 dead hatchlings with 54.3% hatch success. The sand here was very wet from ground water seeping into the nest even though the tide did not wash over it. This may have caused problems with the hatch success.

So out of the two nests there were 5 hatchlings that were released to crawl to the water. One of them had a congenital deformity with its plastron bowing out so that it could not crawl very well to the water. It got extra help from Bev in getting there. We hope it could swim better than it could crawl since all of the flippers worked fine




Nests #4 & #5 Inventoried on Sullivans

August 29, 2015 




Both of the nests inventoried on Sullivan's Island this morning were in situ, so we did not know how many eggs were laid and had to count all the empty shells as well as the undeveloped eggs. Here are the results:


Nest #4 at Station 25 had 23 unhatched eggs, 75 empty shells, and 24 live hatchlings which were released and swam away. Hatch success was 75.7%.


Nest #5 at Station 26 1/2 had 128 empty shells, 8 unhatched eggs, and 3 live hatchlings, also released. Hatch success was 93.9%.  



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Nests #20 Inventoried on IOP

August 25, 2015 


Nest 20, laid on July 2, was inventoried this morning. The nest was very successful with a 97% hatch rate, 3 undeveloped eggs & 2 live hatchlings that were released.


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Nests #18 and #19 Inventoried on IOP


When we inventoried the "twin" nests at 51st Avenue this morning, here is what we found:

Nest #18 found near Dewees Inlet had 30 unhatched eggs and one live hatchling for a 78% hatch rate. The one live hatchling in the nest had rather severe congenital deformities with not much use of his rear flippers and a misshapen plastron and carapace. Consequently he was really unable to crawl and had to finally be put into the water. Gillian Ellis released him. Obviously he would have died in the nest if we had not done the inventory, and in the wild his chances are unfortunately slim to none.

Nest #19 found at Seagrove Condos in Wild Dunes had a really good 97.8% hatch rate with only two eggs failing to develop. There were no live hatchlings left behind in that one.




Nests #16 Inventoried on IOP

August 20, 2015 


The results at Nest #16 were good this morning. There were 73 empty shells left behind and 6 undeveloped eggs. Two hatchlings were still in the nest and they seemed healthy and were released to crawl to the ocean. Hatch success was 91.2%


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Nests #2 & 3 Inventoried on Sullivans

August 19, 2015 


We did the inventories for Nests #2 and #3 on Sullivan's this morning.

Nest #2 was found by Jane Mundell on June 20th and left in situ at Station 28. There were 75 empty shells, 38 undeveloped eggs that were quite smelly, six dead hatchlings and four live ones that Jane released. They all crawled to the surf and swam away. Hatch success was 65.7% because of all the undeveloped ones. No one knows why this happens sometime.

Nest #3 was the one that coyotes discovered before we did near Station 26. They ate 96 of the 120 eggs, but we were able to save 24 eggs which were moved to the new location. We found here that of these 24 eggs, 20 had hatched and left behind empty shells, so all was not lost in this nest. Because of the coyote predation hatch success was only 16.6%.

We are glad that these predators have not yet discovered how to find and dig up the marked nests. Nothing has happened to the six other nests on Sullivan's Island.



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Nest #31 Inventoried on IOP

August 18, 2015 


We got the 1B nest inventoried with rain threatening. There were no live hatchlings in the nest. There were 117 empty shells, 7 undeveloped eggs, and 8 dead hatchlings. We were able to get a DNA sample since we did not have one for this nest since it wasn't found when laid on June 21st. Hatch success was a very good 94.3% 




Nest #15 Inventoried on IOP

August 16, 2015 


When Nest #15 was inventoried, we found 113 empty shells, 3 undeveloped eggs, and 1 dead hatchling. No lives ones left in the nest this time. This nest had a 96.5% hatch rate. There were no hatchlings to release but it was a beautiful morning on the beach


Surprise!!! Nest #31 on IOP

August 15, 2015


Anne Royall and Cheryl Burns found tracks and hatchlings at Access Path 1B on the very last walk of the season this morning. We are so happy to announce that now we have 31 nests on IOP. This is where we failed to find a body pit when Pam Jones found tracks on June 21st. The high wind had blown the sand completely flat and there were no clues as to where the eggs were. Congratulations to Anne and Cheryl for finding the "Pot of Gold" there!



Nest #13 on IOP Inventoried

August 13, 2015



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It was a surprise to see so many hatchlings still in the nest at 24th Avenue this morning. But they were all vigorous and mature enough to be released by Michelle Ziegler, Lewis Gregory and Patrick WIlkin, . This was an odd nest with some emerging each night before the inventory, but overall the hatch success was 90.6%. Thanks to all who helped to make it a success.


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Nest #14 on IOP Inventoried

August 10, 2015


Nest #14 had 9 live hatchlings still in the nest who were fit and healthy and scrambled to the water. Only 6 eggs were unhatched out of the 127 laid. Hatch success was 94.4% for a very good and successful nest.


Nest #11 & #12 on IOP Inventoried

August 10, 2015

Nest #11 at 30th Avenue had 4 hatchlings left in the nest which were released by Sis Nunnally. Hatch Success on this one was 87.8% with 13 undeveloped eggs.

Nest #12 at 29th Avenue also had 4 hatchlings in the nest and these were released by Kristen Ayers. Hatch Success was 91.4% with 10 undeveloped eggs


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Nest #9 & #10 on IOP Inventoried

August 7, 2015

Nests #9 and #10 at 29th Avenue were both healthy and did very well. Nest #9 was found on June 10th and the nesting female was seen on the beach at dawn on June 10th by Staci & Chris Sarkowski and Ramona Farish. It was moved from the Windjammer to 29th Ave and had 101 eggs. All but one of these had hatched (in addition to the DNA sample egg). So it was a 98% hatch success. Ten hatchlings were released to crawl to the ocean by Patrick Wilkin.

Nest #10 was found the next day on June 11th at the 45th Avenue Path and 141 eggs were relocated to 29th Ave. There were only 4 unhatched eggs and no live hatchlings still in the nest. Hatch success was 96.4%.

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Nest 1 on Sullivan's Inventoried

August 4, 2015

Nest #1 at Station 25 was a real success story. Without interference from coyotes, all but 3 of the 130 eggs hatched and all but 7 made it out of the nest the last night of July. Amelia McMarlin released the bucket of 7 turtles found in the nest. Some were reluctant to go the right way to the ocean. There was no bright sunrise to guide them with dark clouds all around, but they finally got to the water and swam away. Let's hope the rest of the nests on Sullivan's do as well. Hatch rate was a great 96.9%.

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Nest #4 & #7 Inventoried

July 29, 2015

Both of this morning's inventories showed that all of the hatchlings had left the nests. While that was a good thing for the turtles, it was rather disappointing to all of the people who came hoping to see some tiny loggerheads released. Nest #4 relocated from Dunecrest Lane to 24th Avenue had 119 eggs of which 16 did not develop and no hatchlings dead or alive were found in the nest. Overall hatch success was 85.7%. Nest #7 at the 17th tee in Dewees Inlet was left in situ, so the eggshells were counted to find out how many were laid. There were 125 empty shells of which 14 did not develop. So counting the egg taken for DNA sampling 140 were laid. There was one dead hatchling and no live ones. Overall hatch success was 89.2%.


Nest 30 for IOP

July 28, 2015



Mary Ellen and Geoff Bertkau discovered loggerhead tracks at 308 Ocean Blvd this morning. The turtle crawled all the way up to the primary dune and made what looked like two body pits. Fortunately she laid her eggs in the highest one so we did not relocate the clutch. This may be our last nest and will not hatch until around the third week of September.


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Nest #3 Inventoried

July 26, 2015



The large Nest #3 of 161 eggs at 3rd Avenue was inventoried today and 27 eggs were found that did not develop. Four live hatchlings were found still in the nest after 4 days and were released by Elaine Schupp, Beverly Blalock and her grandchild, and Sandra McLean who found the nest on May 25th. Hatch success was 82.6%

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First Three Inventories for 2015

July 23, 2015

Today we inventoried the three nests that had hatchlings emerge on Sunday night. When we add the egg count, remember that one egg was taken for genetics research in Nests #1 and 2 which is not included in the figures below. So that is why it looks like the count is 1 egg off. Here are the results:

Nest #1 at Ocean Point found by Linda Daehn, Diane Mullins and Arlene Southerlandat the 17th tee and relocated to Ocean Point sand fencing 149 eggs laid, 133 hatched, 15 unhatched, 6 live hatchlings released. Hatch rate = 89.2%, Emergence rate = 85.5%

Nest #2 at 3rd Avenue found by Anne Royall and Cheryl Burns at Access Path 5A and relodated to 3rd Avenue Access Path. 83 eggs laid, 78 hatched, 4 unhatched, 1 live hatchling released. Hatch rate = 93.9%, Emergence rate = 85.2%

Nest #29 (wild undetected nest) at Tidewater Port O'Call in Wild Dunes - in situ. 117 eggs laid, 107 hatched, 10 unhatched, 15 dead hatchlings in nest at inventory, 10 live hatchlings released. Hatch rate = 91.4%, Emergence rate = 70%





One Harassed Turtle on IOP

July 21, 2015


Patti Horton and Colleen Kraft kept calling in reports of tracks on the beach this morning. The first set of loggerhead tracks they saw were at Ocean Club where a turtle crawled onto and over the wave dissipation wall at Bldg 1 of Ocean Club Villas without nesting. Then there were more tracks at the scarped dune on the 18th fairway just before the turn where our two sand fence nests are. These tracks had some disturbed areas up against the steep scarp. So it looked like she gave it some thought and maybe tried to nest, but there were no eggs at this location. Then more tracks around the turn in front of the Ocean Point houses with no body pit. All of the tracks had exactly the same size measurement between rear flipper claws - 27", so we suspect it was the same turtle each time. From the lines of where the tide was at each site and the amount of blown dry sand, it looked like she started toward the inlet and came ashore farther south each time, ending up at Ocean Club.

Just as we were getting ready to leave Wild Dunes and thinking how tired this poor nesting female must have been, we got a call from tourists on the beach that there was a turtle on the sandbar near there between Shipwatch and Mariner's Walk. By the time we parked and got onto the beach, the turtle had crawled back into the lagoon from the distant sandbar and could not be seen. We were told that people and children had been loud and touching her and that she was lying in one place for quite a while. We waited and watched but never saw her head come up in the large and deep lagoon/gully. Tide was coming in, so we assume that she did make it back over the sandbar and into the ocean.

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Nest 29 for Isle of Palms

July 20, 2015

There was an undetected nest at Tidewater/Port O' Call that emerged last night. Tourists and the police alerted us to the fact that there were many hatchlings on the beach. Too bad our beach walkers did not see those tracks in May around the time of Nest #1 because some of them went the wrong way and were lost. The site of the egg chamber was located and marked with a sign but no orange tape. This morning he people checking on Nest #1 at dawn saw the last few turtles coming out of this nest at the sand fencing at the Point.


Nest 7 for Sullivan's

July 19, 2015


It's looking like a bumper crop of nests for the Sullivan's Island turtles this season. Jo Durham and Helga Greim found tracks just north of Station 28 1/2 where a turtle had crawled over a large clump of sea oats in the dunes and nested right behind the vegetation. It's amazing that she was able to plow through this jungle of sea oats before laying. We marked this nest where it was laid and did not relocate the eggs. Then there were very long tracks between Station 26 1/2 and 27 which measured exactly the same size as the ones at 28 1/2. No eggs were found here and we are assuming it was the same loggerhead who false crawled here earlier in the night.

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Wandering Turtle






Nest 6 for Sullivan's

July 18, 2015


Angie Finn, Tita Massie and Norma Attaway, along with Norma's new dog Ginger patrolled the Sta 19 to 13 section and found tracks near Sta 14 this morning. Ginger only has 3 legs, but she proved to bring good luck and turtle eggs on her first try. The nest was low and right in the middle of a patch of sea oats and ants. There were 99 eggs laid but the nest was shallow and 3 were found broken. The others were relocated to a good dune which was two doors south of Station 19. So there is finally a nest in that section.

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Nest 28 for IOP

July 16, 2015


A turtle nested near the IOP Charleston County Park during the night at the 2nd house of the Beachside complex. Margaret and Donnie Lane along with Gina and Doug McQuilken reported the tracks which led to a nest laid on the flat washover part of the beach. This turtle did a great job hiding the location of her nest. There was a distinct body pit where Linda probed for the eggs, but Tee found the actual nest in a disturbed area leading up to the body pit. As Mary Alice would say...."Those wily turtles!" The 125 eggs were moved farther north and placed on a good dune at the last Beachside house before the 21st Avenue Access Path.

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Nest 27 for IOP

July 14, 2015

The turtle who laid nest #19 at Seagrove two weeks ago today may have returned and nested at 56th Avenue last night. Eric Liebrecht and Gillian Ellis were the ones to report that nest and they were the same ones to find this one. She started digging her egg chamber and for some reason decided to stop and climb higher on the beach to actually lay her eggs. It's interesting how small the opening is of a nest.... only about 8 inches in diameter. The sand here was very full of sharp shells and rocks perhaps from the renourishment project several years ago and there were 136 eggs. These were relocated to 29th Avenue to incubate.

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Nest 26 for IOP

Deja vu (all over again) 

July 12, 2015

A turtle nested again on the Cedar Creek Spit in Dewees Inlet during the night. She crawled up to the scarped dune and dug an egg chamber but then abandoned it and made what looked like two more body pits lower on the beach and laid a small clutch of 74 eggs that were very deep in the sand. There was also a string of eggshell material and a marble sized unyolked egg from extra calcium in her system. Cindy Moore, Gwen Chianella, and Dottie Stubel can count this as their second nest of the season since they found one at Ocean Point on June 28th, exactly two weeks ago.. These eggs were placed next to yesterday's nest near the 32nd Avenue Path.

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Nest 25 for IOP

July 11, 2015

Aelecia Rideout reported tracks at 46th Avenue this morning. She was patrolling with Sis Nunnally, Judy Ewing, Rita Oden and Rita's beagle Daisy. The tracks measured within an inch of the same as of the turtle who false crawled 3 times two days ago and just the same as the one who false crawled at the golf course yesterday. So we hope she is done now. It was a rather small clutch of 109 eggs and they were laid in the flat washover zone and not on the low dunes. So they were relocated to 32nd Avenue.

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Nest 24 for IOP

July 8, 2015

This morning there were two sets of tracks in the lower IOP section found by Maryann & Jack Czarnecki It appeared that the same small sized loggerhead had tried to nest just north of 5th Avenue early in the night before the high tide but bumped into the steeply scarped dune and crawled back without laying her eggs. Then the same size tracks were seen again a few doors south of 7th Avenue. This time she did lay her eggs in spite of the steep cliff there. It was a small clutch of 81 eggs. Turtles tend to have a reduced number in their nests as the season begins to wind down. They were relocated to 2 doors north of the 30A Access Path where the dunes are safe for nests.

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Three More Nests for IOP

July 6, 2015

Another big night for our loggerheads with three coming ashore on the Isle of Palms to nest last night. Nest #21 was found by Sandra McLean, Beverly Blalock and Elaine Schupp four doors north of the 3rd Avenue path. This turtle did not quite make it out of the flat washover part of the beach to lay her eggs. So they were moved up onto the dune right there. There were 129 eggs.

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Nest #22 was laid at the 53rd Avenue Path. Eugenia Dowdeswell and her granddaughter Anna Ellis were the first to discover these tracks and then were joined by Eugenia's husband, Bobby and their daughter Ellis and then Linda Bethea who is the Turtle Team member who shares this section with Eugenia on Monday. This nest did not have to be relocated and was left in situ after a DNA sample was taken. This turtle crawled through a gully of water on her way to and from her nest site. Usually when they encounter one of these, they turn around and go back out, but she was determined to lay her eggs and did.

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Nest #23 was at 56th Avenue and was also found by Linda and Eugenia's family. It was not in a good location and the eggs almost overflowed the egg chamber and were very close to the surface. Since relocation was necessary, these eggs were taken to 53rd Avenue and placed near #22. There were138 eggs in this one. 

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Nest #5 for Sullivan's

Turtles always seem to crawl ashore in spite of the fireworks and crowds the night of July 4th and last night was no exception with 3 sets of tracks found this morning.

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Sissy Harris, Ann Evans, and Terri Stafford found tracks near 36th Avenue where a turtle crawled about 100 yards with about 20 yards of it on the dune ridge sliding down to the back side of the dune and back up several times. But no definite body pit was found. A plain stick for this suspicious False Crawl #8 was put there for us to double check for hatchling tracks around the beginning of September just in case.

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On Sullivan's Island Jo Durham was checking the north section and found tracks which led to a nest on a beautiful dune at Station 26 1/2. This one was marked to incubate in situ. Then we put a screen and pennants around it to ward off coyotes. It looked as if the same large sized turtle crawled up near Station 23 where the large lake is but did not nest. That is False Crawl #5 for Sullivan's.



Nest #20 for IOP

On the Isle of Palms turtle nested at the base of the 12 foot scarped dune in front of #614 Ocean Blvd during the night. Joe Hager and Dave Sowers were on patrol there this morning. There were 140 eggs that had to be relocated to a safe place and were taken to just north of Access Path 30A.

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Meanwhile on Sullivan's Helga Greim reported tracks at Station 28 and 28 1/2 this morning. Both were false crawls that went all the way up into the dunes. The one at Station 28 had a deep egg chamber that had been dug and abandoned with no eggs laid. There were coyote tracks surrounding it, so we think that the turtle was disturbed by the coyotes and went back into the ocean before dropping the eggs. At least they weren't eaten. We hope she will return tonight and be able to nest successfully either on Sullivan's or the south end of the Isle of Palms.

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Team Works to Protect Sullivan's Nests

This morning the Turtle Team went out to Sullivan'a to continue our battle with the coyotes. In addition to the "noisy" flags we have put up, we installed a 4ft. by 4ft. black mesh that hopefully will prevent coyotes from digging into the 4 nests on Sullivan's. Fingers crossed.

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Three Nests for the Turtle Team!

This was the day that Michelle Pate, State Sea Turtle Coordinator for SCDNR came to do her annual site visit for our nesting project. She must have brought good turtle karma with her because we had three nests laid during the night

Sullivan's Nest #4 - The first call came from Richard Hanf who spotted tracks at Station 25 on Sullivan's Island. He and Reta Hampton were on Tuesday patrol there. The turtle had crawled high enough on a very nice dune so that we found the eggs, took a DNA sample and marked the nest there. We will be putting new coyote screens on the four nests in this section very soon since Michelle brought it with her.


Isle of Palms Nest #18 - The second call was from Gillian Ellis and Eric Liebrecht along with two of their friends, Spencer Hurteau and Taylor Swanson, who found tracks at the Seagrove Condominiums just south of the very eroded sand bag section at Beachwood East. There were 140 eggs which were relocated to just south of 51st Avenue.

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Isle of Palms Nest #19 - Then Patti Horton, Colleen Kraft, and Cindy Bergstrom reported yet another nest in Dewees Inlet at the 17th tee of the Wild Dunes Links Course. This nest was slightly below the spring tide wrack line in this area which is subject to washovers later in the season. So it was also moved to 51st Avenue and there were 142 eggs with one found broken at the bottom of the clutch which was used for DNA sampling.


Nest #17 for Isle of Palms

Gwen Chianella Dottie Stubel, and Cindy Moore, along with Gwen's daughter Andrea were excited to find loggerhead tracks right at the point along the Links Course 18th fairway at Ocean Point this morning. This turtle crawled into the sand fence area where we had relocated Nest #1 on May 22nd only about 20 feet away. It was such a perfect spot that we did not move the eggs after taking our DNA sample. We did have a little trouble because we borrowed Nancy Houser's golf cart to get there, but a tire came off the rim and the cart would not go any farther. So to get it back to Nancy's house, we had to push it with Dottie, Cindy, Gwen, and Andrea's help. Being on the Turtle Team is always an adventure!

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Nest #16 for Isle of Palms

The small loggerhead who made 2 false crawls at the north end of Sullivan's yesterday seems to have crossed Breach Inlet and nested two doors north of 3rd Avenue on the Isle of Palms. This morning Chaunci and Eli Pirhalla were the first to report tracks there. These were the same unusually small size as the two sets yesterday. The nest was just high enough of the beach to be left alone and not relocated, so it is marked there with the sign.

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Next on to Sullivan's

We are putting strings of pennants (red, white, and blue) around the three Sullivan's nests in an attempt to deter coyotes from digging them up. This is something that seems to work in Georgetown County. The snapping noise of these in the wind scares them away from the nests - we hope! We noticed that ghost crabs had dug up the empty shells near Station 26 where the coyotes dug in Sunday night and that there were coyote tracks all around the nest at Station 28. Just hoping that they won't get any more eggs.



Nest #3 for Sullivan's (Attacked by Coyotes)

June 22, 2015

The Turtle Team recieved a call this morning that there was a new nest at Station 26 on Sullivan's Island. That was the good news....the bad news was that it had been dug up by coyotes. There were at least four coyotes and they managed to dig up the nest and destWell our fears have come true. A loggerhead crawled up just south of the Station 26 path during the night. She laid 120 eggs and covered them up. But then they were dug up by what we think was a family of 4 coyotes from the looks of the tracks. Only 24 eggs were left unbroken and these were moved to a spot halfway between Station 25 and 26. We may put up some flags to snap in the wind around the nests there because we are told by those who have this problem that this is one of the few things that will scare them away from a nest. So if you see a string of triangular flags around the nests on SI, that is what this is all about.

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Four sets of tracks led off the beach and back into the dunes.



Nest #2 for Sullivan's (Finally)

Exactly 2 weeks ago today Sullivan's had Nest #1 where the turtle wandered between Station 23 and 24. This morning Jane Mundell and Peter Greim reported tracks near Station 28 that were the same size as Nest #1. We suspect that the same turtle returned and this time she made huge loops all over the beach between Station 27 and 28 after laying. The eggs and body pit were on the small primary dune just west of the Station 28 path where she first came in - a good spot with no lagoon between this spot and the ocean. So it was marked and left there to incubate. We can look for her again in another 2 weeks & hope she returns.

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Nest #15 on IOP

Very long tracks led to the water near low tide when Caroline Stone, Alice Williams, and Eileen Dulany patrolled the beach this morning. Bill Schupp had spotted them and tipped off these volunteers about the new nest near Access Path 2A. The body pit and field signs were atypical because the turtle crawled up near the primary dune and made a body pit but then it extended about 15 feet toward the water. We couldn't tell at first if there were two body pits or a long one. It turned out to be one long continuous one with the eggs hidden underground near where she entered. Since it was above the spring tide line, we marked the nest to incubate in situ. Nice not to move these as we have done so many times this season.

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Nest #14 on IOP

We had a false crawl found by Jimmie and Jill yesterday at Ocean Point. This morning it looks like the same turtle may have returned, but this time she laid her eggs a couple of hundred yards farther into the inlet between the end of the Links course and the Seagrass Lane boardwalk. Dan and Doreen Tylak discovered the tracks which matched yesterday's false crawl. The nest was too low on the beach as well as being too far into the inlet. If the nest had survived flooding below the spring tide line, the hatchlings may have been swept into the marsh on an incoming tide. There were 127 eggs which were relocated to a dune two doors south of the 30A path.

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Nest #13 on IOP

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Lewis Gregory along with his dog Daisy as well as Michelle Ziegler and Ben Wilkin all reported tracks at 24th Avenue. This loggerhead did not crawl above the flat washover area and laid a very large nest of 149 eggs near the other two nests there. So we moved this one just a little higher to get it out of the flood zone.


In the meantime on Sullivan's Island

Carolyn Burson texted that there was an entangled shorebird at Station 13 on Sullivan's Island at Ft. Moultrie. It turned out to be a beautiful black skimmer who had become very entangled in some fishing line where a tiny shark was caught on a hook. There was no hook damage to the bird, but the line was wrapped many times around the bird's body, wings, and legs. However, once the line was cut and removed, there appeared to be no damage to the soft tissue or flight feathers. It was released and flew off like a champ. We were so happy to have been able to save it and send it on its way.




Nest #12 on IOP

During the night a loggerhead laid eggs near Port O' Call condominiums in Wild Dunes. Kristen Ayers and Christel Cothran discovered the tracks which led to a body pit that was barely above the high tide line. It contained 129 eggs and also had a ghost crab hiding in a shallow hole. The nest was relocated to a suitable dune several doors north of 29th Avenue for incubation.



Nest #11 on IOP

Things seem to be picking up with our nesting females now with four IOP Nests in the last 4 days. Around 3 am the police reported a turtle on the beach near 30th Avenue and Sue Hogan, and her pal Rosie, found the tracks early this morning. Sis Nunnally was also there as well as Jackie Huffman and Susan Riley Chagrin who were patrolling the section from 9th Ave up to 30th. The turtle almost crawled above the spring tide line - but not quite far enough. So we relocated the nest of 115 eggs to a perfect dune right there two doors north of the 30th Ave Access Path. As always we took one of these as a sample egg for the DNA research project which is in its 6th year. So we will know which turtle this is and which other nests are hers.

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Nest #10 on IOP

There were tracks at 45th Avenue that went unreported until just after noon today. Janice Horst who lives at #1 45th Avenue called Sis Nunnally at that time and was wondering if anything was going to be done about the nest at 45th Avenue. Since most of us who should have responded were off the island and unavailble by that time, we owe a big vote of thanks to Tee Johannes and Jo Durham who went out and located the eggs along with help from Linda Bettelli. There were 141 eggs laid in the access path which were relocated next to yesterday's Nest #9 near 29th Avenue.



Nest #9 on IOP

This morning Ramona Farish and Staci and Chris Sarkowski were lucky enough to see a nesting loggerhead returning to the ocean after she finished laying her eggs near the beach volleyball court near the Windjammer and VFW at 10th Avenue. At least she did not lay them IN the court area this time. However, she was almost deterred by a chair and umbrella someone had carelessly left on the beach. There were 101 eggs which were relocated to a safe dune just north of 29th Avenue.

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Nest #8 on IOP

During the night the high wind blew sand and erased the body pit and field signs where a loggerhead laid eggs at 900 Ocean Blvd. But the Isle of Palms Police patrol reported that a turtle was laying eggs there at midnight. We could see a short pair of tracks above the wrack line, but nothing beyond that. However, there was a faint area where sand had been pushed around and that was where we found 130 eggs. Michelle Ziegler and Lewis Gregory were on patrol, but Michelle had not been able to see the faint tracks as she passed the spot. We are indebted to the police for the saving of this nest which was in a flat washover area below the spring tide line. The eggs were moved to a dune on the other side of the 9th Avenue path where there is an empty lot.


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Nests #7 on IOP and #1 for Sullivan's

In Wild Dunes on IOP

Another bonus night for our turtles with 2 nests on IOP #7 and SI #1. Our first call came from Nancy Evans who found tracks at the 17th tee of the Links Course. Nancy was walking with her grandson, Trace, and Penny Gorby when they found tracks that led to a body pit on a very nice elevated dune in Dewees Inlet. The sand was soft and spongy, but we were able to find the clutch of eggs and marked it to incubate where it was laid. From the track measurements, the timing, and the same location, it appears that this is probably the same loggerhead who nested at the same place 15 days ago.

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Next at Station 24 on Sullivan's

Then Helga Greim and Madeleine McGee fgound tracks on the sandbar between the "lake" at Station 23-24 and the ocean. These tracks wandered around forever before finally ending at a body pit on the sandbar closer to the wrack line. The turtle was on the beach for hours last night. Linda Rumph located 130 eggs which were relocated to a dune at the Station 25 Access Path. The original location is prone to repeated washover and therefore not a safe place.

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And last the long walk off the beach.....maybe another nest tomorrow


Nests 6 on IOP

The thunder and rain early this morning were fierce. On days like this we worry about missing tracks on the beach, but a new member of the Turtle Team, Ramona Farish saved the day. She found two sets of tracks that were faint from several hours of rain overnight at the 30A path even though this wasn't even her section of beach. She walks from 9th to 30th Avenue but lives between 30th and 31st. Carol Gaston was able to patrol from 38th to 49th Avenues but was not able to get down to 30A. One set of tracks was an obvious false crawl with no body pit, but the second set let to a faint depression where Bev was able to find 118 eggs. Both tracks were the same width, so it could have been all from one turtle but there is no way to be sure. The nest was below the spring tide wrack line, so it was moved up on a dune right there at the 30A Access Path.

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Nests 4 and 5 on IOP

Two nests in one morning !

Our turtles were busy last night. The first call came from Julie Engbring and Lori Roe about tracks at Dunecrest Lane. The turtle had bumped into the scarped dune there but had laid 119 eggs during the night. While we were trying to decide where to relocate them, we got a call from Sarah Castle at 24th Avenue. So we went to 24th to investigate. This loggerhead had finished nesting at 6:30 am and was videoed returning to the ocean by Ann Gray of Asheville NC.  

Nest #4 at 24th Avenue was left in situ after being found by Sarah Castle (center in picture) who was patrolling and was joined by Christina WIllson and Kim Brower who narrowly missed seeing the turtle because she was covering the south part of the section today.

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Nest #5 from Dunecrest Lane was relocated to a dune at 24th Avenue since it had to be moved anyway and this was a safe place. Lori and Julie came down to 24th Avenue to see their nest relocated.

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Nest 3 on IOP

This morning Elaine Schupp and Beverly Blalock patrolled from Breach Inlet to 9th Avenue and found tracks and a body pit at 2nd Avenue. This turtle's crawl was distinctive because there was a deep groove in the sand left by something on the left side of her plastron. We will look for her again. There were 161 eggs, a very large clutch. It happened to be Mary Alice's birthday and she was home briefly from her book tour and helped relocate the nest to 3rd Avenue next to Nest #2 from Saturday.

Happy Birthday, Mary Alice!!

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Beverly Blalock and Elaine Schupp find nest #3





Nest 2 on IOP

After yesterday's Wild Dunes nest, it was nice to have one down at the south end this morning. Anne Royall and Cheryl Burns called to report tracks near the 5A Access Path. The turtle wandered around trying to get up on the dune, but the scarp creates about a six foot wall, so she laid 83 eggs at the base of the cliff. Two of the eggs were very small non-yolked spacer eggs, perhaps from extra calcium in her system. The relocation spot is just south of the 3rd Avenue Path where the dunes are not damaged by erosion. Check it out!

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First Turtle Nest on IOP

At last a loggerhead nested on the Isle of Palms. With over 200 nests reported in SC we were starting to feel left out. But Diane Mullins and Linda Daehn spotted tracks at the northern end of Ocean Point near the 17th tee of the Links Golf Course in Wild Dunes this morning and were joined shortly after by Arlene Southerland. The tracks were distinct in the damp sand, but the body pit was barely visible because of the high wind which had blown away the field signs and obscured the body pit, making finding the eggs very difficult. We were very happy when the clutch of 149 eggs was located but knew they needed to be moved to an area where they would not be washed over.

They were taken to the sand fence area just around the point on the 18th fairway where erosion and washover are not likely. Many thanks to Turtle Team member Nancy Houser for the use of her driveway and golf cart in Ocean Point. Now the season has begun!




First Turtle Action for 2015

Loggerhead Lessons on the beach with the SC Aquarium

The Turtle Team put on an educational program this morning for about 55 younsters ranging in age from 5 to 10 years old. The children got to learn about our nesting turtles and how the Turtle Team works to protect them from the time the females come on the beach to nest until the newly hatched babies avoid predators and crawl to the ocean. They had to race past predators to make it safely to the water. Other stations included included looking for the buried eggs (ping pong balls), comparing the sizes of different species of turtles, learning how important it is to keep the beach and ocean clean, and what a nest looks like. Kelly Thorvalson represented the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program



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Nesting season started May 22th