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Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle + Hilton Head Island

August 05, 2013  •  1 Comment

One of the places that my family likes to vacation at is Hilton Head Island, SC. We enjoy early morning walks along the beach to catch the sunrise or to observe the sea life the tide has brought in. You never know what you will see on these morning walks, but one thing for sure is that there will always be something delightful to see. On this particular morning we got to see a baby sea turtle make its way to the ocean waters! The poor thing was fighting for all it was worth to get to the shore, and this was hard to observe because everything in you wants to help it along, but that is not allowed. So, as a crowd of us stood back and "rooted" for this little sea turtle I just had to snap a few pictures of it's first journey. I hope that you enjoy them! Hilton Head Island is a wonderful place to take your family for a nice, quiet time together.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests are protected as the species is endangered. All along the beach at the edge of the dunes you can see these marked nests. The eggs are in the nest for about 60 days, and once hatched the turtles dig their way to the surface together; this process can take several days! When they are almost to the edge of breaking through they will wait til nightfall when the temperatures are cooler before they come out and scurry their way to the ocean.

Baby sea turtle at Hilton Head Island, SC making its way to the ocean. The nests are protected.2013-08-05_0001

Here you can see where the baby sea turtles had dug their way out. We learned that they emerged around 8:00PM the night before. This little turtle must have been the last one out, and he was all by his lonesome, poor thing! I think it is unusual to see them out in the bright light like this. It is their instinct to head toward a light source (the moonlight), and this baby's eyes were HUGE! Because of all of the light from the early morning sunrise this baby turtle seemed to be disoriented at times, and we watched it travel in several directions trying to find the water. This was very hard to watch. The poor thing had a few moments where it just flopped face down in the sand it was so tired! But what a little fighter it was! After a few moments she got right back up and made tracks toward the water again.

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island, SC2013-08-05_0002 Because the babies emerge at night, and they intinctively head for light there are rules you must follow if you are vacationing in a beachfront house at Hilton Head Island. Lights out at 10:00PM! Pull your shades and block any light that may be seen from the beach. The babies can get confused and if they see light coming from someone's house they will head in that direction, and in this case the baby turtles will die because they can't make their way to the ocean.

Baby Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island2013-08-05_0003

We continued to watch this baby make its way to the ocean. From the nest to the water it is quite a way for this little creature. We guess it to be about 100 yards to the water's edge, and the tide was going out, which made it even tougher for this baby. What a daunting task when you think about all the dangers the turtles face on their trek to the sea. They have to risk raccoon, pelicans, seagulls, and sometimes jogging humans that like to jog at night, and bike tires from cyclists. We also learned that a crowd of beachcombers had made a "human blockade" from the nest to the shore so that the mass of baby sea turtles could make their way to the water safely. By the way, a female will lay a clutch of about 150 eggs!

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island2013-08-05_0004

FINALLY! The baby got her flippers wet! It was cute to watch the baby lift its head to look for the direction it needed to go. Once it hit the water, it just kept going toward the ocean and toward the sun. I thought for sure that the tide would push it back into the sand, but it was AMAZING to see the wave crash over it, and then all of the sudden a little turtle head would pop up out of the water, and it had swum about 5 to 6 feet further into the ocean!! Another big wave, and then again a little turtle head pops up and swims a few more feet, crazy fast!

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island, SC2013-08-05_0005

Once in the ocean, the baby will fight to survive other natural predators as well as man made ones. Of the 150 only 5% will survive statistically to 10 years. They will not come back to shore ever again, unless it is a female, and then only to lay her eggs. The female will usually go back to the place of its birth to lay her eggs! Crazy, isn't it!?

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hilton Head Island, SC2013-08-05_0006 If they survive to adulthood they can live up to about 80 years and weigh about 1000lbs! That is one big turtle! When they are born they are about 2 inches long.

Safe travels little fella! We are so glad you made it to the sea!

Loggerhead Turtle Hilton Head Island, SC2013-08-05_0007


Comments

Betty Compton(non-registered)
Thank you for sharing.......I love all the pics but, the one of him or her popping up it's little head to see the ocean. Amazing how something so small is not afraid of that large body of water. Your pics and blog captured a great moment..and reminds me of the starfish story "making a difference...for that one". Thanks for making me smile!! Good Job!
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