Sea Turtle Season on Hilton Head Island
From May until October, it’s sea turtle nesting season on Hilton Head Island.
Volunteers play an important role in protecting our sea turtles
Humans are not the only ones who love the 12 miles of the wide-open, pristine beaches of Hilton Head Island. This beautiful, sensitive coastal environment also plays an important role in the conservation of endangered sea turtles. Every year, hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles build nests to lay eggs on the beach. On average, a sea turtle lays 120 eggs in a nest two to eight times between the nesting season. The thousands of hatchlings that are born then attempt the trek from the beach to their ocean home.
Two volunteer organizations, Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island, and Turtle Trackers play an important role in helping turtles during nesting season. These organizations educate the public on how they can help these special species thrive on Hilton Head Island during the nesting season. They also keep the beaches clean and keep track of nests on morning and evening patrols.
During nesting season, volunteer organizations protect the beaches and monitor nests. Sea turtle hatchlings use the light of the moon to get to the ocean, so artificial lighting visible from the beaches can be confusing and make it impossible to get to their sea home.
That’s why it’s important to:
- turn off lights at night
- close window shades
- fill in holes on the beach
- do not disturb any nests you might find
You can help do your part so future generations of sea turtles can continue to live on Hilton Head Island and visitors and residents can enjoy the natural beauty of this island. A Town of Hilton Head ordinance protecting sea turtles requires all indoor and outdoor light fixtures that are visible from the beach to be shielded, so the lights are either not visible or turned off, between 10 pm and 6 am during nesting season from May 1 until October 31. The ordinance also prohibits digging holes in the sand more than 12 inches deep, leaving personal belongings on the beach overnight, or leaving trash behind. This gives turtles a clear path for laying nests and getting back to the ocean. Most important, never disturb a sea turtle nest, a nesting sea turtle, or a hatchling. For more information on the town ordinance, visit here.
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