Top Ten Tips for Saving Myrtle-area Sea Turtles

September 18, 2013 

Loggerhead turtle nest warning sign on the beach. Photo by Becky Billingsley for Weekly Surge.

PICASA

Tips for saving Myrtle-area’s turtles

By the beginning of September, all 10 Loggerhead nests along Garden City Beach’s seashore had hatched and produced almost 1,000 babies. If SCUTE volunteers hadn’t relocated and monitored the nests, none of them would have survived.

Why should we care if sea turtles survive? One reason is they are floating ecosystems – about 100 tiny organisms live on sea turtles’ bodies. Also, sea turtles help keep jellyfish populations under control by eating them. It’s important to keep jellyfish numbers at manageable levels, because if there are too many they eat too much fish larvae, and there won’t be enough fish for fishermen to catch commercially. It’s about keeping a balanced ocean.

It’s easy to help sea turtles overcome human interference with their nesting process.

Here are the top 10 ways:

10. Educate yourself about sea turtle nesting habits at seaturtle.org and at dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/.

9. Don’t use flashlights on the beach at night, or at the least be aware there could be baby turtles out there from July through October. If you see Loggerhead babies or mamas, turn your lights off, be quiet and back off. Also, no flash photography.

8. Don’t attempt to ride a mature sea turtle (yes, idiots do this). If you see anyone touching a nest or chasing or handling hatchlings or nesting mothers, they should have with them their SCDNR permit. SCUTE members also wear identifying T-shirts. If they’re not permitted, they are breaking federal protection laws, and “Any person who knowingly violates any provision of [the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973] may be assessed a civil penalty up to $25,000 or a criminal penalty up to $100,000 and up to one year imprisonment.” You can report suspicious activity to SCDNR at (800) 922-5431.

7. If you see a sea turtle in distress or a dead one, call the same number as above and report it to SCDNR.

6. If you see turtle tracks and no one has yet protected the nest, call SCDNR. After a false crawl or a new nest has been checked out by SCUTE members, they mark a big X through the tracks.

5. If you rent a beach house along the South Carolina coast from May through October, don’t turn on outside lights that face the beach. If interior lights can be seen from the beach, close the curtains.

4. Buy an Endangered Species Specialty License Plate. You can have one with a loggerhead on it for $30 every two years, plus a changeover fee of $6.

3. Visit the SCUTE Facebook page, learn when the organization is having a public nest inventory and attend one. You’ll learn a lot and maybe get to see live hatchlings.

2. Pick up your litter off the beach and take someone else’s with you too. Don’t leave beach gear, including tent frames, on the beach overnight.

1. If you enjoy sunrise turtle walks, become a SCUTE volunteer. Inquire about that by sending a message to Jeff McClary through the SCUTE Facebook page.

- Becky Billingsley for Weekly Surge.

Weekly Surge is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service