A friend of mine visited Kiawah Island, South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and she was extremely lucky to be able to witness some baby Loggerhead turtles hatching on the beach! These turtles usually hatch at night, so being able to witness the event during the day must have been amazing. There were dozens of them hatching at the same time, and the Turtle Patrol was there to make sure visitors didn’t handle the babies improperly and to ensure the babies made their way to the ocean safely. Turtle hatching season takes place on Florida beaches from early May to very late October, so if you haven’t had a chance to witness this miraculous event, there’s still time!
Kiawah Island’s Turtle Watch website is called the Turtle Nest, and it reports that as of July 31, there were 246 nests on the beach! That’s incredible. This list shows all of the different nests and their hatch dates – it looks like less than 20 nests have hatched so far. Turtles begin laying their eggs at the end of May, and hatching begins in July and ends at the end of October. At this time, special conditions exist on the beach — there can be no bright lights at night and there will be plenty of volunteers walking around the beach keeping an eye on the nests.
Here are some rules to live by if you plan to be on Florida beaches:
- If you see turtles hatching on the beach and/or trying to get to the water, don’t touch them! Find a volunteer.
- Don’t scoop them out of their nests and put them directly in the water — they need to imprint the beach on their brains so that they know how to get back to the beach the following year
- It’s fine to shoo away birds or crabs to keep the baby turtles safe on their way to the water, but again – don’t touch them. Let a volutneer handle them with gloves.
Kiawah Island isn’t the only place you can go to see sea turtles lay their eggs and watch hatching scramble for the shoreline, but Florida beaches pretty much are – over 80% of US Loggerhead turtles make their nests on Florida beaches. You can try beaches in Fort Meyers, Key Biscayne Naples and Miami, for example. I think that this experience is just as cool as swimming with turtles in the ocean!
For more information about this remarkable time of year, please visit the following websites:
Photos: Thank you to Kristen Digman for the photos!!