This year is a banner year for loggerhead turtles laying eggs throughout the southeast. Sunday morning, Hunting Island broke its previous record, when Sea Turtle Conservation Project volunteers found the 142ndnest. In 2016 the island had 141 nests, the most recent “modern” record year. Data entry became more standardized in 2000, thus “modern.” The previous record before 2000 was 157 nests in 1984. Scientists explain the great number of nests as the result of conservation projects that have been implemented for more than 30 years.[i]
There are currently more than 12,200 loggerhead nests in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The highest previous “modern” count was 11,321 in 2016. On Cape Island in the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge, which gets one-third of the nests in South Carolina, there are so many nests this year that females are nesting on top of other nests. [ii]
For the sixth time this season on Hunting Island, volunteers discovered a mama turtle coming ashore after sunrise. In the past it was very unusual to see these turtles unless they were injured or trapped. But this year on beaches around the southeast, loggerheads have been coming ashore in daylight.
The Sunday turtle also was only the second time since 2000 that a turtle was discovered with a tag on its flipper. The tag is EEK 795. Tag numbers are reported to the Department of Natural Resources, most often when found on dead or injured turtles, but with daylight visits, additional tracking information can be gained when tags are discovered.