August 23, 2016

Hi, Sea Turtle Friends

A few quick updates:

  1. We are settled in at 403 nests on the Hilton Head Island ocean beaches (one more very late arrival this week!).  There are several more nests along Port Royal Sound which will be added in for the final count.  However, we did have some excitement at one of the 75 day nests – there was one little hatchling found still in the nest – and it was an albino!!  Amazing – have never seen one before, but he is now swimming out in the ocean!

Albino Sea Turtle

 

 

 

 

  1. Flashlights and sea turtles:  regular flashlights on the beach at night will distract the sea turtle hatchlings from going to the ocean – they will immediately head toward the flashlight, and will not re-direct to the sea.  So, we need your help – if you see someone on the beach at night using a regular flashlight, please tell them to use a sea turtle friendly flashlight.  (Either covered in red or a special red light turtle-safe flashlight – various styles available at the museum or Amazon.)

No Lights

 

 

 

  1. I will write to you again in 3 weeks or so – by that time, we should have some DNA information to share!
  1. In the meantime, I will be keeping you informed about your particular nest.  Many of the nests have hatched (about 58% so far) but there are many more to go…….

Enjoy the end of the summer – and remember:  Lights out for Sea Turtles – including flashlights

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

andreabsiebold@gmail.com

843-415-2211


 

August 14, 2016

Hi, Sea Turtle Friends,

Erosion is a constant situation on most beaches and Hilton Head Island is no exception.  EErosion1very 7-10 years, the Hilton Head Island beaches are replenished with sand pumped from off-shore – and we REALLY needed it this year:

 

 

 

Two of the three major sections have now been completed – Port Royal/Mitchelville and Sea Pines are finished.  The beach renourishment is an amazing process to watch (wonderful before and after pictures at hiltonheadislandsc.gov)….. and a challenging one for the sea turtles!    During the period when mother sea turtles were coming ashore, Marine Biologist Cheryl King and her dog Tau, were out all night patrolling the 1,000 feet of beach under construction to help any turtles that came ashore amid the equipment, or to relocate their nests.  Thanks for your hard work, Cheryl!!!   By the way, Tau is being trained to hunt for sea turtle eggs to assist in the locating of nests in Hawaii – he had lots of practice on Hilton Head this summer!

erosion3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, we thought that the last of the sea turtles had nested for the season until Amber spotted this beautiful mother on the beach this week.  And so we now have Nest # 401!!!

erosion4

More later –

 

Andrea

 

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


 

Proud Parents!  August 4, 2016

Dear Hilton Head Properties Friends,

Your adopted South Forest Beach Sea Turtle nest has hatched!  Your Nest # 105 emerged on August 1st after an incubation of 57 days.  The team did the inventory on the nest this morning and found that there had been 109 eggs in the nest and they had a hatch success rate of 86.2%.  A great result!

Proud Parents

 

 

 

 

Here is a hatchling from another nest – this one needed help getting out of the nest……but your hatchlings climbed out just fine!!

hatchling

 

 

 

 

It is great to know that those babies made it to the water!

GPS

 

 

 

 

Hatchlings have a built in GPS!!!   That is why it is crucial that no one interfere with the hatchlings during their run to the ocean.  They must make their own way.   It is believed that during this trip across the sand, the magnetic field of the earth imprints on the hatchling’s brains, which give them their sense of direction.  In addition to guiding them on their long journey in the ocean, this built in GPS will also guide them back to the beach of their birth for nesting in 20-25 years. Amazing creatures!

 

More news later –

 

Andrea

 

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


st 1, 2016

Dear Fellow Sea Turtle Friends,

It is hot on Hilton Head this week and the new nestings are slowing down (only one every day or so, bringing total to 397 nests).  But more and more nests are hatching, and the team is doing several inventories a day.  Here are three babies rescued from Nest #116 during the inventory this week:

Babies

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a great summer sea turtle story:

In Kansas, 1500 miles from the nearest sea turtle, lives a ten year old girl named Ashley.  Last year, Ashley and her family vacationed on Hilton Head Island and went to one of the sea turtle talks put on by the Coastal Discovery Museum.  Ashley was so interested and wanted so much to help save the sea turtles, that she saved up her money so she could adopt a nest this summer.  She wrote with her application:  “I love sea turtles so much.  I can’t wait to get all the information about the nest.  I am so happy to be able to have the opportunity to save a sea turtle.”

Then this summer, Ashley, along with her sister and her cousin, did a lemonade stand in their Kansas neighborhood – to raise money to save the Hilton Head Island sea turtles!  They raised $142.51 – and donated $100.00 to the sea turtle project (holding back $42.51 for supplies to do it again).  “I told everyone that bought lemonade what we were doing it for, and we got a lot of donations”.  Here is the budding ecologist and entrepreneur at work:

raising

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, Ashley, for helping to save the Sea Turtles!!!

More news next week –

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


 

July 25, 2016

Dear Sea Turtle Friends,

This is a crazy sea turtle year – some nests are hatching very late (67 – 68 days of incubation) and some are hatching very early (49-50 days).  We have had 392 loggerhead sea turtle nests as of today!

Once in a while, there is no sign of a hatching – in which case, our turtle patrol does the inventory on the 75th day after the laying – to find out and document what is going on in the nest.    Sometimes the hatchlings got out without our seeing the tracks (very tricky…..).  Other times a nest has been invaded by some other creature (nature can be so cruel) L.    In some rare cases, the eggs just plain do not develop, like Nest # 1 which had 133 unfertilized eggs and no hatchlings!  We will assign you a new nest if your first nest has had a problem.

Wild Nest:  Once in a while, a sea turtle will lay her eggs and we will not know that she did because rain or tides washed away her tracks.  The only way we will know about is when we see hatchling tracks – which happened this week!  A Wild Nest was discovered when a whole bunch of hatchling tracks was seen on the newly renourished beach in Port Royal Plantation.  The mother must have gone up among the equipment, laid her eggs high in the dune and left – and no one saw her or her tracks.  Here is Mary this morning, doing the inventory on the wild nest, counting every hatched and unhatched egg (see the piles of eggs and egg parts):

turtlejuly1

 

 

 

 

 

and looking for hatchlings that might not have made it out of the nest – and found one!!!  Here is that baby heading to the water this morning –

turtlejuly2

 

 

 

 

If you have not heard from me about your particular nest, it has not hatched or been inventoried yet.  As soon as it does, I will email you the specifics about what was found in your particular nest –including how many of your hatchlings made it out!

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about any of this – and thanks for your interest in the sea turtles!

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

andreabsiebold@gmail.com

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

843-415-2211

 


 

July 11, 2016

Dear Sea Turtle Friends,

We are up to 338 Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests as of this morning – and the first nests on Hilton Head Island are about to hatch!!!  Several of the early nests have reached 60 days – so it could be any day now.  You can tell that the nest has hatched when you see tracks coming out of the nest site like this:

Sea July1

 

 

 

 

Here is how is happens: deep under the sand, the baby turtles are gradually (over 3-5 days) breaking out of their shells using a sharp egg tooth.  Then, during the cool of the night (you can NEVER predict exactly what time or what day) the hatchlings scramble out of the nest ALL AT ONCE (this is called a “boil”), climbing all over each other, and make a run for the nearest light – which is the ocean.

Sea July2

 

 

 

 

If you are lucky enough to see happen to see a nest hatch, or the hatchlings running to the sea, enjoy the sight of nature at its most amazing – but DO NOT TOUCH any hatchling or take any nighttime pictures.  The hatchlings are running toward the light of the ocean, and other lights will distract them…..and they have enough challenges to survival already!

 

The hatchlings are amazingly tiny – here is a picture of one on a footprint – it barely covers the big toe!  It is amazing that they can survive at all!

Sea July3

 

 

 

 

Exactly three days after the hatching, our turtle team will carefully dig up the remains of the nest to document how many eggs were in the nest and how many hatchlings made it out.   This is called the inventory.  After your nest has hatched, I will share your nest’s results with you.

Much more information to follow –

Andrea

Andrea Bhatt Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


 

July 5, 2016

Dear Sea Turtle Friends,

  1. The mother sea turtles have gone wild on Hilton Head Island for the holiday weekend!  37 new nests since Thursday – 13 on Saturday night alone.  We are now up to 304 nests…may be heading for a record!
  1. To help you understand what you are seeing on the beach:  A green ribbon is put on every nest on the 45th day after it was laid.  This means that the turtle patrol is watching for signs of an emergence from that nest (hatching usually occurs within 45–70 days after the nest is laid.)  Here is a picture of a nest with a green ribbon:

Turtle nest

 

 

 

 

One sign to watch for is a depression in the sand between the poles.  You can’t miss it – it looks like a bowling ball was dropped in the sand, like this:

turtle nest 10

This indicates that, deep under the sand, the baby turtles are gradually breaking out of their shells – this may take several days.  Look as much as you would like – but be sure not to touch the nest or sand around it – this is a very important part of the development.

More on the hatching process soon!

 


 

June 27, 2016

Hi, Nest Adopters and Sea Turtle Friends,

A quick update:

  1. We are up to 254 nests as of this morning!  Last year on this date, we had 212 nests.  WOW – what a season!
  1. Last week, we had a “Strawberry Moon” – this means a full moon occurred during the summer solstice (which won’t happen again until 2062!).  Add in the high tide and we had pretty significant additional erosion on the beach that night:

Hilton Head Sea Turtles

Some of the nests have taken a beating from the high tide – but for others, it was just a damp close call.

  1. Here is a great picture (taken by Caroline during patrol) of the mother loggerhead turtle who laid nest #100.  Since we do DNA testing on every nest, we will be able to tell what other nests this mother has laid this season, as well as where else along the coast she has laid them.  More on our DNA testing later.

Hilton Head Sea Turtles2

  1. And of course, we have wonderfully talented people making sand sculptures on Hilton Head Island……

Hilton Head Sea Turtles3

But if there is a nest anywhere nearby, these sculptures must be smoothed over before dark so that the hatchlings can make it to the ocean without an obstacle course – they have enough challenges already!!!

We all do so appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about lights out on the beach after 10 pm, and making sure your fellow beach goers to know the importance of leaving the nests alone.  Our endangered species need all the help they can get.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Andrea

 

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

Sea Turtles On Hilton Head

 

 

 

 


 

May 14, 2016

Dear Nest Adopters,

Three nests on Hilton Head Island so far – slowly but surely, the mother sea turtles are coming ashore to lay their eggs.  But the most interesting activity has been just off the coast of Hilton Head Island – many people have reported seeing large numbers of leatherback sea turtles swimming and feeding just off shore.  Leatherback sea turtles are HUGE – they can weigh 1500 pounds and can be 7 feet long – and they love to eat jellyfish!

1turtle

We don’t see them on Hilton Head Island very often – we generally get Loggerhead sea turtles, which are about 500 pounds.  However, several separate nest adopters have shared their experiences and pictures of yesterday (Thanks, Paula, Mike and Vicki!)

 

 

A picture from Paula and Mike:

2turtle

 

And from Vicki:

Our family went fishing this morning in Port Royal Sound and were trolling for Spanish mackerel. We made our way…. about 45 minutes at a slow speed, we saw 15 leatherback turtles. Pictures attached,

although they do not adequately convey just how massive these turtles were. My husband has lived and fished here his entire life and has never seen one leatherback, let alone fifteen. There were also a few loggerheads and smaller turtles in the mix. The cannonball jellyfish were thick, and we even saw a leatherback go after one. On our way back to the north end of the island we crossed the sound and saw three more solo leatherbacks in random spots. It made for a great day on the water!”

3turtle

Hoping that a few of these wonderful creatures will nest on our shores – we will keep you posted!

 

Andrea

 

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

andreabsiebold@gmail.com

843-415-2211

 


 

May 10th, 2016 Hilton Head Island

Hi, all,

Today, May 10th, is the day!  The Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Nesting Season has begun!  In the early hours of this morning, a mother loggerhead turtle dragged her huge body ashore:

Sea Turtle

 

 

 

 

and laid the first nest of the season on Burkes Beach, Hilton Head Island.  Since May 1st, our turtle patrol team has been patrolling the beach from the southern point to Fish Haul Creek, looking for the tell-tale tracks that the mother sea turtle leaves in the sand as she slowly makes her way to the sand dunes to lay her eggs.  The tracks to and from Nest # 1:

 

Our team then carefully marked the Nest # 1 to alert everyone that there is an endangered species nest there.   Here are turtle patrol members Jayme and Leigh this morning at the first nest–

First nest on Hilton Head Island 2016

 

 

 

 

I will give you many more details about the process as we go along.

Thank you so much for your support of the Hilton Head Sea Turtle Protection Project!

Andrea

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

843-415-2211


 

Turtle Nest Update Hilton Head Island May 4, 2016

Dear Nest Adopters,

Here are Mary and Jayme on this morning’s turtle patrol – and the sign on the front of the patrol ‘gator says it all:  NOT YET!  Everyone is asking and waiting for the first mother sea turtle to appear on a Hilton Head Island beach.

Turtles 2016 Hilton Head

The sea turtles will start coming ashore when the water temperature is 70 degrees and it is not quite there yet.  However, we have had several reports of Leatherback sea turtles near our shore, so we will see who shows up here – and when!

We’ll keep you posted –

 

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


 

Dear Nest Adopters,

Hurricane JoaquinA few updates and pictures from this weekend.  Hurricane Joaquin did not come ashore but the rain in South Carolina has still been record – and heart – breaking!  Upstate (Columbia) and just up the coast a bit (Charleston) have been hit very hard with flooding and continued downpours.

 

Hilton Head Island has not received that level of rain, but we continue to experience unusually high tides and storm surges.  This has created problems with beach erosion and challenges for the remaining sea turtle nests.  This nest is almost completely buried in sand:

Hurricane Joaquin 2

And this nest is about to be washed away:

Hurricane Joaquin 3

There are a few marked nests still on the beach but they have either been covered in water, buried in sand or not shown signs of hatching – a very difficult time for our end-of-the-season nestsL but nature has its own way.  We are still keeping our fingers crossed for a couple of the nests – we will know for sure when the inventories are done on their 75th day of incubation.

But, the good news is that we have had 325 nests on Hilton Head Island – a great year – and the vast majority of them have been successful, thanks to everyone for helping to keep the lights off the beach, and protecting the nests.  I’ll send you the full summary after the last nest is completed.

Stay dry and safe!!

Andrea

Andrea Bhatt Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

 

 


 

 

September 1, 2015

Dear Nest Adopters,

It did not hit the U.S. as a hurricane, but Erika really caused a huge storm surge on Hilton Head Island – I have never seen the water come up so high!  Here is a picture of the remains of the surge yesterday morning – it went all the way over the north end renourished beach to the bushes in front of the houses in this picture.

Erika 1

It created gullies of water and left behind a trail of spartina grass and shells.  Amazing what one storm can do.

Erika 2

A couple things could happen to the remaining sea turtle nests in this situation.

1.  Usually a full moon high tide is fine for the nests, but combined with the storm surge and heavy rains this week, there might be some hatching success issues – especially if there is standing water.  Keeping our fingers crossed.  Those nests in the 57 day range right now might be the most at risk.  Here are two nests that originally WERE well above the high tide line and the storm surge went right over them!

2.  Emergences were hard to detect because our heavy rains this week washed out the tracks.  With no sign of hatching, the turtle team cannot do the inventory until the 75th day of incubation.

Erika 3

So be patient if you have not yet heard from me about your hatching results.  Yours might be one of the “75 day wait” nests.

Will keep you posted –

Andrea

Andrea Bhatt Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

 

 


 

August 20, 2015

Dear Adopters,

Remember Barnacle Bill – the injured loggerhead turtle we found on the beach in June?  Here he is when we first discovered him – we then covered him with wet towels to keep him alive until help could arrive. The Island Packet had a front page article today about the injured sea turtles that are currently in the South Carolina Sea Turtle Hospital – here is the link:

http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/08/19/3886229/sc-aquariums-sea-turtle-hospital.html

The Hospital named him Belton (but he will always be Barnacle Bill to us!) – he is still there, slowly but surely recovering.  It will be some months before he is able to be released but it looks like he will make it – Hooray!!

More news as it happens –

Andrea

Andrea B. Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

 


 

August 19, 2015

Dear Nest Adopters,

Quick Update:  The mother sea turtles are finished nesting for the season and we have 315 nests on Hilton Head Island.  The number goes up slightly when an unmarked nest or PN hatches.  (Many of you have asked about the single pole with PN written on it that you see on the beach.  This is “Possible Nest” – the patrol was not able to find the exact location of a nest but they are pretty sure that one is somewhere nearby so they mark it with one pole and watch for action in 60 days.)

turtle dnaDNA Testing:  As I mentioned to you in an earlier email, our turtle team takes one egg from every nest for DNA testing.  Here is a picture of the collection process.

 

 

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources picks up our samples and delivers them to Dr. Brian Shamblin at the University of Georgia for analysis.  Samples are being gathered from Georgia, South and North Carolina for the Northern Recovery Unit Loggerhead DNA Project.  We have been participating in this project for 7 years now and although we are only half way through this season, the data that is emerging is amazing!!

We know that a mother turtle seems to nest every 1-4 years.  We also know that she may lay multiple nests per season, usually 2 or so weeks apart.  She generally will come back to the same beach year after year – like this mother (identified as CC00442) who has been nesting on HHI every year or two since we started tracking the DNA.

Date of Nesting Location of Nest Nest Number
2008-06-19 Hilton Head Island
2010-05-27 Hilton Head Island
2010-06-10 Hilton Head Island
2010-06-21 Hilton Head Island
2010-06-30 Hilton Head Island
2012-06-04 Hilton Head Island
2012-06-19 Hilton Head Island
2012-07-01 Hilton Head Island
2012-07-12 Hilton Head Island
2013-05-28 Hilton Head Island
2013-06-21 Hilton Head Island
2013-07-04 Hilton Head Island
2015-05-24 Hilton Head Island 42
2015-06-07 Hilton Head Island 106

But some wander around a bit – like this mother (# CC001067) who has been here and there until this year when all of her nests have been on Hilton Head Island

Date of Nesting Location of Nest Nest Number
2010-05-24 St. Catherines
2010-06-26 Hunting Island State Park
2010-07-10 Daufuskie Island
2013-05-31 Hilton Head Island
2013-06-14 Little Tybee
2013-06-27 Daufuskie Island
2013-07-12 Botany Bay Plantation
2013-07-24 Hilton Head Island
2015-05-18 Hilton Head Island 13
2015-06-01 Hilton Head Island 71
2015-06-13 Hilton Head Island 128
2015-06-24 Hilton Head Island 192

Also, from compiled genetic data, Dr. Shamblin was able to isolate a confirmed grandmother still nesting in NC in 2014.  This turtle may be 90+ years old.  He can determine mothers and sisters as well.   It is like CSI for turtles!!!

Andrea

Andrea Bhatt Siebold

Sea Turtle Nest Adoption

Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

July 30, 2015

Hi, Sea Turtle Adopters,

We are up to 310 nests as of today – and the team is VERY busy marking new nests, watching 45+ day nests, inventorying hatched nests, leading the Turtle Talks at the Sonesta, etc, etc.  Three cheers for our hard working team, led by Amber Kuehn!

 And three cheers also for a NYC company that heard about our efforts to save the sea turtles – and decided to do something about it.  Here is their story:

 Winston & Strawn LLP is a law firm with a heart!  A few years back, the firm established a WISE committee (Winston Initiative for a Sustainable Environment) which implements projects supporting the environment and conservation.  As part of their generous efforts this year, Winston’s New York office contributed to the Coastal Discovery Museum, which administers the Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project.  Here is how it all started:

Several years ago, Karen and Allan Fanucci, frequent visitors to Hilton Head Island, saw the marked loggerhead sea turtle nests on the beach near their home and adopted one to support the effort of saving this endangered species.  (The huge, 300-500 pound, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore during the summer nights on Hilton Head Island to lay their eggs and the Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project team marks the nests to avoid inadvertent disturbance by beachgoers.)

turtleAs a partner in Winston’s New York office and member of the WISE committee, Allan suggested that the firm adopt some of the nests for support of the Project.  The committee completely adopted the proposal and went way beyond adopting a few nests.  Led by the Chairperson, Robyn Staaterman, the firm began a campaign to help firm personnel understand and support the plight of the endangered sea turtles.  On one day of the campaign, every person turtle candyreceived at their desk a note about the Project along with a chocolate turtle:  and towards the end of the two week campaign, everyone received a reminder note with some gummy turtles . 

By the end of the campaign, 50 nests had been adopted, and $1250.00 was donated to The Coastal Discovery Museum.   Here is a picture of Allan presenting the packet of adoption applications, checks, cash and donations to Andrea Siebold, Project Nest Adoption Coordinator.andrea

In September, after all the adopted nests hatch, the new “parents” at Winston & Strawn are planning a big Birthday Bash to celebrate the birth of all of the turtle hatchlings that make it out of the nests that they supported and protected.

Thank you to all turtle lovers at Winston & Strawn – you are making a difference!! Andrea Sea Turtles On Hilton Head Andrea Bhatt Siebold Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


July 18, 2015

Hilton Head Sea TurtlesAfter making their mad dash to the ocean, the hatchlings will now swim straight out from Hilton Head Island to the deep ocean, where they will join other loggerhead turtles following the Gulf Stream north from South Carolina, across the Atlantic Ocean, down along the coast of Africa and then circle back to our area.  That is built-in GPS!!!

After twenty five years or so, the females who hatched on Hilton Head Island beaches, will return here to lay their eggs – what awesome creatures!

turtle july5           Many, many thanks for your interest and support of the sea turtles!  More turtle news to come as the season progresses. Andrea Andrea B. Siebold Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


July 15, 2015 Dear Sea Turtle Friends, Some information about the hatching and nest inventory process to help you understand what you are seeing on the beach:

On the 45th day after a nest is laid, our Sea Turtle Patrol ties a green ribbon to theHilton Head Sea Turtles nest – that is a reminder to the team to visit that nest every single day to look for signs that the babies are making good progress under the sand.  They will do that until the nest hatches (usually around 60 days after it was laid).   Here is a nest with a green ribbon:

Hilton Head Sea TurtlesOne major sign they look for (and you can see it, too):  a depression in the sand between the poles, which means that the baby turtles are starting to break out of their shells deep in the hole.  It is really easy to tell – it looks like a bowling ball was dropped in the sand!  The broken shells take up less room in the nest, so the depression is created.

The indentation does NOT mean that the babies are about to come out – it just means that they are spending several days working to get out of their shells.  Then, during the cool and dark of the night (you can NEVER predict exactly when or what day), after they have almost all broken out of their shells, the hatchlings scramble out of the nest all together and make a run for the nearest light – which is the ocean.  (That is why we never take nighttime pictures of hatchlings – the artificial light would distract them from heading toward the water.)

Nest Inventory:  Exactly three days after the hatchlings emerge, the Sea Turtle team Turtle Nest Hilton Headdigs up the nest, counts every hatched and unhatched egg, and looks for hatchlings that might not have made it out of the nest.  They will then help any remaining slowpokes get out of the nest and get to the water!  Here is a picture of the inventory of Nest # 1:

Once in a while, there is no sign of a hatching – in which case the inventory is done on the 75th day after the laying.    Sometimes a nest just does not develop (L), and other times the hatchlings got out without our seeing the tracks (very tricky…..).

After your nest has hatched and been inventoried, I will email you the specifics about what was found in your particular nest –including how many of your hatchlings made it out!

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about any of this – and thanks for your interest in the sea turtles!

Andrea Andrea Bhatt Siebold Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project


June 29, 2015 Hi, Adopters, A few interesting sea turtle updates to share with you: * We are up to 219 nests on the island, as of this morning.  Last year, on June 29th, we only had 75.  A great year for nesting so far! Turtle Update June* Here is a picture of a loggerhead mother heading back to the ocean in Sea Pines a week or so ago.  Below is a video (taken by a visitor) of her entering the ocean.  Notice how she is covered in sand – that is the result of her just completed nest laying activity! * Every once in a while, an injured or stranded sea turtle is found on the beach. ATurtle Hurt couple of weeks ago, we came across this poor guy with a badly injured flipper: He was all covered with barnacles (so they named him Barnacle Bill) …..this happens when a turtle is in a weakened state:  he moves more slowly through the water so barnacles attach to his carapace (shell) and start to grow – just like your boat that sits at the dock. If you find a stranded or injured sea creature, call 1-800-922-5431 (the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources).  They will then call Amber (our wonderful Sea Turtle Protection Project Manager), who is the only person in the area with a live stranding permit!  In this case, Amber came over, loaded Barnacle Bill into her truck, and the folks from the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston picked him up.  We are waiting to see how he is doing, but even without one of his flippers, he should be fine as a tripod once he is healed.  Here he is being treated in the turtle hospital: Turtle Hospital More news as it happens – Andrea Andrea B. Siebold Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project Click here for a video of a mama turtle heading back to sea!


June 16, 2015 Dear HHI Sea Turtle Fans Happy World Sea Turtle Day!!! June 16th is officially the day for drawing attention to the plight of the endangered sea turtle species around the world.  And what a day for Sea Turtles on Hilton Head Island – another EIGHT nests appeared today, bringing our total so far this year to 145!!! Turtle Update June     Here are Carrell and Dawn out on patrol this morning. Turtle Update 2     Turtle recognitions are taking place all over the world.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is celebrating all week in Silver Springs, Maryland.  They have announced: Join us as we celebrate World Sea Turtle Day, June 16, 2015, with a week-long look at sea turtle science and conservation known as NOAA’s Sea Turtle Week. Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles with streamlined bodies and large flippers. These turtles inhabit tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world. Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches on land to lay their eggs. They often migrate long distances between feeding grounds and nesting beaches. Of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters. All sea turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 10 populations are endangered and 6 populations are threatened. The Sea Turtle Conservancy in Gainesville, Florida, is also celebrating in a big way with a huge event at the Florida Museum of Natural History.  On their website, they remind us of ways we can all help:   Turn off your lights. If you live in a beach-front residence, turn your lights off. Lights cause nesting and hatchling turtles to wander. Simple thing like closing your blinds, turning off your lights or using sea turtle friendly lighting encourages nesting and helps hatchlings go in the right direction. Clean up the beach. Remove any waste from beaches that might hinder a turtle’s nesting. A clean beach will ensure that turtles have a clean nesting ground. Also, knock down sand castles and fill in holes so that the ground is flat and there is nothing in the way of hatchlings when they’re making their way to the ocean. Recycle. Plastic that ends up in the ocean gets eaten up by turtles because they believe the plastic is jellyfish. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris. So buying and using products that decrease the use of plastic helps tremendously.   So much we can all do to help – Happy World Sea Turtle Day!!!   Andrea May 26, 2015 Hi, Everyone, Wow – those mother turtles are really busy!  We are up to 48 nests as of today.  (Last year as of May 26th, we only had a total of 9 nests!!!

Some of you have asked about the moving of nests:  When you are on the beach, you might see our turtle patrol digging up a nest.  This is part of the work that the patrol does to help save the sea turtles from extinction.   If the mother has laid her eggs too close to the water, the nest must be moved to higher ground to prevent drowning of the eggs during a high tide.  When this happens, our trained turtle patrol very carefully digs up the eggs and moves them in a very delicate process: with gloved hands, they gently remove every egg and place them in a bucket for safekeeping during the transfer.  Then they dig a hole in a very similar shape to the original hole – and place the eggs in the new hole, one at a time, in almost exactly the same position that they were in before.  They cover up the nest, mark it, and let the eggs settle in for their 45-60 day incubation.  Amazingly, as of today, out of our 48 nests, 15 have had to be relocated – that is 31% – a lot of work for our Turtle Patrol!

Here is a picture of our team moving a nest Moving Day notice the mother’s tracks to and from the nest.       Look at the size of the eggs – they look like ping pong balls! Turtle Eggs           Looks like it will be a banner year for sea turtles on Hilton Head Island (fingers crossed!!) More later – Andrea   Andrea B. Siebold Sea Turtle Nest Adoption Coordinator Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project

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