Beginning in May each year, female sea turtles go from the ocean to our dunes to build a nest for their eggs. If you happen upon a sea turtle, do not disturb it. Although these sea creatures are beautiful, approaching them may endanger the turtle and her eggs and is against the law.
What & When is Sea Turtle Nesting Season?
In North Myrtle Beach, sea turtle nesting season occurs from May 1st to October 31st. During nesting season, female sea turtles can lay up to 120 eggs in a single nest on our sand dunes. Once the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles, known as hatchlings, make their way to the ocean using the moon's light to guide them.
If You Spot a Sea Turtle
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources works with local sea turtle patrol volunteers and authorized specific individuals to monitor the beaches for sea turtles, nests, and hatchlings. The North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol is proud to work under the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E.) and SCDNR to protect the sea turtles.
If you spot any sea turtle activity in North Myrtle Beach, report it to the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol at 843-213-9074 any time – day or night. Your call will assist in the conservation and protection of nesting females, sea turtle nests, and stranded turtles or hatchlings.
Sea turtles are endangered species, and humans should not touch them. The results of such human actions toward sea turtles can distress the female sea turtle and affect their nesting and the success of her hatchlings. Please help us protect them and educate others if you see them approaching a sea turtle or engaging in improper actions towards these gentle creatures.
How You Can Help Protect Sea Turtles
Here are some ways you may help protect the sea turtles during your visit:
- Do not approach the sea turtle or shine a flashlight or phone at the sea turtle. A good rule of thumb is to avoid flashlights on the beaches in general. Many hatchlings become disoriented by artificial lights, leading them away from the ocean and putting them at risk of predation or dehydration. Female sea turtles may become distracted and not find the proper place for nesting, which puts both the female sea turtle and her eggs at risk.
- Keep ocean-facing windows of your beachfront accommodation covered after 10 pm. The lights from windows shining on the beaches make it difficult for sea turtles to follow the moonlight to return to the ocean.
- Level sandcastles and fill in holes as they become barriers to the hatchlings trying to reach the ocean. If they are delayed, it leaves them exposed to predators. Picture these tiny hatchlings trying to climb the Grand Canyon to reach the ocean! Holes and castles are big enough to be a genuine obstruction to their journey.
- Avoid using plastics, balloons, straws, etc., which turtles may mistake for food. By embracing sustainability, you not only help the sea turtles, but you are also ensuring our beaches can be enjoyed for generations to come.
- Remove obstructions from the beach, and take sports equipment and toys with you when you leave. Fishing lines and ropes may also cause them to become entangled.
- Don’t be a litter bug. Be sure to take all your trash to proper receptacles, which are conveniently located near each beach access point. Burying cans and cups in the sand is not a proper disposal method.
- Sea turtle nests are protected from foxes, birds, and ghost crabs. If you see a nest that looks like it has been disturbed, contact the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol at 843-213-9074.
- Do not feed foxes or other wildlife on the beaches. They are waiting for the hatchlings, and feeding them may make them less likely to search for food elsewhere.
- Remember, it is unlawful to try to assist hatchlings or carry them to the ocean.
For the safety of our sea turtles, it is crucial to follow the rules and regulations posted on the signs at the beach access points.
What If You Happen Upon Sea Turtle Patrol Activities?
If you are lucky, you might be able to observe the Sea Turtle Patrol when they inventory a sea turtle’s nest or after they have discovered a new nest. There are specific protocols that must be followed, and observers must remain respectful of the process. The NMB Sea Turtle Patrol does not announce these activities, but if you happen upon them, you may be invited to observe.
While walking along the beach, watch your step and avoid causing distractions or obstructions for sea turtles and their hatchlings. Look for signs posted along the beach that mark nesting areas, and keep an eye out for tracks in the sand that indicate a sea turtle has come ashore to lay her eggs. Sea turtle nests are typically circular and about 1.5 feet in diameter.
Sea turtle nesting season in North Myrtle Beach is an exciting and important time for both locals and visitors. By following the rules and regulations posted on the beach, we can do our part to protect these magnificent creatures and ensure their survival for generations to come.