People from all over enjoy our world famous beaches, but did you know that sea turtles love them too? Starting in May you may begin seeing tracks in the sand as sea turtles come ashore, testing the beach to see how ideal it is for laying eggs. Because of the lights, noise and other factors of development on the beach, sea turtles are often frightened back into the ocean, but there are things we can do to make them feel warm and welcome on our beaches and increase our chances of seeing a sea turtle. Plantation Resort is dedicated to helping the sea turtles not only survive but thrive on our local beaches. We invite you to help us in our efforts.
How can I help?
The South Carolina Beach Authority suggests that you:
· Stay off the dunes. The sea turtles lay their eggs in the dunes and when we keep them safe and clean we increase our chances of seeing sea turtles there.
· Don’t pick sea oats. These plants help maintain the health of the dune by providing structure for the dunes and adding essential nutrients for the eggs in the soil.
· Pick up litter. We don’t want the turtles getting sick because they saw a plastic bag and thought that it looked like a yummy jelly fish.
· Please clean up all beach chairs, toys, etc. when you head home. Sometimes turtles find themselves cornered or confused when they encounter these objects.
· Fill in holes. Turtles can become trapped in them.
· Don’t set off fireworks. Sea turtles can become frightened of the noise and swim away. Sometimes they also eat the debris causing sickness.
· Public sea turtle patrols will take place every Friday beginning June 6 and running till August 8 at the Myrtle Beach State Park. These educational walks start at 6 am and are led by a local sea turtle rescue expert who will tell you all about Myrtle Beach’s relationship with sea turtles (free with park admission). Who knows, you might even spot a sea turtle.
Click here for the Myrtle Beach State Park website. For a useful sea turtle handout, see "Beach Information" in the side panel and click on the "loggerhead sea turtle activity" link.
What if I see a sea turtle?
We can all play a role in protecting sea turtles in our area.
· If you see a turtle or turtle tracks, call and inform a park ranger. The phone number is 843-238-5325.
· Turtles use the light of the moon to guide them back to the ocean and can be misdirected by onshore lights. During the egg-laying season sea turtle rescue groups ask that you avoid using flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach.
· Remain quiet since the turtles are spooked by noise and movement.
· Keep your distance, staying low and behind the sea turtle.
· If you are lucky enough to see babies crawling across the shore, let them crawl on their own so that they can build the muscles they’ll need to survive in the ocean. You can also make sure the path to the ocean is clear and open.
· Watch where you step.
· On our beaches we mostly see Loggerheads but other turtles like Kemps Ridley, Leatherback and Green turtles have occasionally made an appearance. There are 7 known turtle species roaming the world’s oceans.
· Loggerhead Sea turtles are the state reptile of South Carolina.
· Each spring/summer turtles swim ashore and crawl up the sand to lay their eggs.
· Eggs can take approximately 60 days to hatch. Sand conditions such as temperature and wetness play a role in how long the eggs incubate.
· Turtle eggs play an important role in keeping the delicate sand dunes healthy, providing essential nutrients to the dune grasses.
· Sea turtles are one of the few animals that eat ocean grass, regulating the growth of this important habitat.
Just 2 miles from Surfside Beach, Plantation Resort is an excellent place to make your base as you pursue active turtle rescue. Keep an eye out for this summer’s Totally Turtle Activity at Plantation Resort where your children can learn all about sea turtles while they create a fun craft. Call 1-800-845-5039 for more information about how to reserve your vacation at Plantation Resort.