Volunteers count record number of sea turtle nests on Tybee Isla - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Volunteers count record number of sea turtle nests on Tybee Island

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Volunteers through the Marine Science Center have counted a record number of nests on Tybee Island, even though the season is still far from over.

The excavation is part of the experience for a little more than a dozen turtle lovers and curious minds of all ages.

Waylon, 8, was watching the excavation.

"I like the cycle," he said. "I think it's nice how sea turtles think that the younglings should learn on their own."

It's a big part of why conservationists believe the numbers of sea turtles are rebounding.

Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project Coordinator Tammy Smith said, "Our conservation with our project is through the Science Center, the awareness. People seem more interested in sea turtles, and conservation efforts on behalf of the state and the Department of Natural Resources."

Gloved, trained volunteers excavated the nest, pulling out shell after leathery shell. Their final count ends at 85 hatched eggs. This nest is one of 24 found so far this year on Tybee.

"We are hoping to get at least a few more before the nesting part of the season finishes, which will be about mid-August," said Smith. 

In addition to regular pollution, Smith says one of the bigger issues sea turtles still face can be solved with a flip of the switch.

"Lights, right now lighting is a huge issue especially for developed island such as Tybee," she said

Specifically, lights from homes and businesses, even flashlights and ambient light from cell phones can confuse sea turtles, who use moonlight and sometimes early sunlight to guide them to the water.

Officials encourage nighttime beachgoers to use a light with a red filter as they walk the beach at night and to not disturb any turtles that are spotted on the shore.

During last year’s nesting season, Tybee had 13 known nests on the island. Cumberland Island had the most for the Georgia coast at 867.

All told, marine life scientists and preservationists counted 3,291 sea turtle nests.

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