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‘Patience is the name of the game’: Nesting slows for sea turtles along the Grand Strand

Here are the types of sea turtles you can find nesting on South Carolina beaches

Here are the four types of sea turtles that are known to nest in South Carolina. Sea turtle nesting season lasts May 1 through October 31. Remember to turn your lights off on the beach!
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Here are the four types of sea turtles that are known to nest in South Carolina. Sea turtle nesting season lasts May 1 through October 31. Remember to turn your lights off on the beach!

It was a slow nesting season for sea turtles along the Grand Strand.

Only 36 nests were laid from North Myrtle Beach to Huntington Beach State Park, said Ann Wilson, interpretive ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park. Last year, 116 sea turtle nests were laid, according to seaturtle.org.

But the slow season was expected, Wilson said.

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According to Wilson, sea turtles do not nest every year. When they do nest, it takes a lot of energy to lay eggs, which can be done between two and four times a season for each turtle.

“Every fourth year we’ll have a little less,” Wilson said. “Patience is the name of the game with sea turtles.”

This year, Wilson only had one nest to monitor, compared to four nests last year.

At Huntington Beach State Park, 11 nests were laid, said Mike Walker, interpretive ranger at the park. One nest was lost during heavy rain that pounded the Grand Strand after Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm, hovering over the Carolinas before moving out to sea.

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According to Walker, the nest was in a critical point where the turtles had hatched but were incubating before making their move to the ocean.

Once turtles hatch, they stay in the nest as their shells harden and they soak up an sack, which is on their bellies, he said.

“That was difficult to see, especially because the nest made it through the storm,” Walker said.

This sea turtle hatchling is determined to make the journey from its egg on Oak Island, N.C. to its new home in the ocean, no matter what obstacles get in its way.

Walker said he expected more nests to be lost because of the storm, but that “our beach actually looked fantastic after the storm.”

No other nests were lost along the Grand Strand because of the storm.

In North Myrtle Beach one nest was laid. One was laid in Briarcliffe Acres, five in Myrtle Beach, two in Surfside and 15 nests were laid in Pawleys Island. No nests were laid in Garden City.

The first nest in Myrtle Beach was reported in June. The nest held 143 eggs, which were moved to a secluded location at Myrtle Beach State Park.

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At least one stranded turtle was rescued from Myrtle Beach beaches over the summer. In late June, Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue and Myrtle Beach police responded to 65th Avenue North after a tourists saw a turtle struggling in the water.

Once first responders rescued the turtle, it was taken to the Sea Turtle Care Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

Once at the hospital, it was determined the Loggerhead turtle suffered multiple shark bites, according to a Facebook post from Mari Armstrong, co-coordinator of the Garden City-Surfside South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts team.

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In July, members of S.C.U.T.E. and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources rescued a turtle in Litchfield. The turtle was suffering from Debilitated Turtle Syndrome and it was struggling to dive.

The animal also had an injury to its flipper and was covered in sea lice and leaches.

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Across the state, numbers were also low. Wilson said over 2760 nests were laid this year, compared to 5250 last year.

Walker and Wilson both expect the number of nests to increase next year. Nesting season runs from May 1 through Nov. 1.

“They’ve got to be fat and sassy before they come back to nest,” said Jeff McClary, co-founder of the S.C.U.T.E. group.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Cushing out of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, helps release 27 rehabilitated sea turtles into Gulf Stream waters, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The sea turtles were rescued by North Carolina Aquarium crews after experien

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