First sea turtle nest of the season found over the weekend in Ga.

Georgia's first turtle nest of 2021 found on Little Cumberland Island

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The first sea turtle nest of the 2021 season in Georgia was found Saturday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

DNR says the loggerhead sea turtle nest was found on Little Cumberland Island. Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative members spotted a second nest on Sunday on Sea Island.

Georgia Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd said the first nests are “always around the first of May.”

Former University of Georgia professor Dr. Jim Richardson started the Little Cumberland Island Sea Turtle Project in 1964. DNR says the loggerhead monitoring effort is the oldest in North America and shares the status worldwide with a program started in South Africa the same year.

2,786 nests were found in Georgia during the 2020 nesting season. A record 3,950 nests were spotted in 2019.

DNR says nesting season hits full stride in June.

What can you do?

All marine turtles in Georgia are protected by state and federal law. To help conserve these species:

  • Minimize beachfront lighting during sea turtle nesting season. Turn off, shield or redirect lights.
  • When walking the beach at night, don’t use flashlights and flash photography. They can deter turtles from coming ashore to nest or cause them to abort nesting.
  • If you encounter a sea turtle on the beach, remain quiet, still and at a distance.
  • Leave turtle tracks undisturbed. Researchers use them to identify the species and mark nests for protection.
  • Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, Styrofoam and trash floating in the water as food. After ingesting trash, it can kill them by clogging their intestines.
  • Protect beach vegetation: It stabilizes sand and the natural coastline.
  • When boating, stay alert and avoid turtles. Of the sea turtles found dead or hurt in Georgia last year, 26 percent suffered injuries consistent with being hit by a boat. Boaters who hit a sea turtle are urged to stand-by and immediately call DNR at 800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363).
  • Also report any dead or injured sea turtles seen at 800-272-8363. (If the turtle is tagged, include the tag color and number in the report if possible.)

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.