HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WSAV) – A rare, endangered sea turtle that’s nested only three times prior in South Carolina made its way onto Hilton Head Island.
On Friday, a Kemp’s ridley visited the island — an exciting sight for beachgoers and Sea Turtle Patrol.
This marks only the fourth time a turtle of this kind has nested in the state. The others were in Georgetown County in 1992 and 2008 as well as Charleston County in 2015.
This also marked Hilton Head’s earliest nester of the season, which typically runs from May to July.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Kemp’s ridley mainly stays on the Gulf of Mexico, but some hatchlings may make their way to the east coast.
These are the smallest sea turtles, usually weighing between 100 to 200 lbs. That’s compared to loggerhead turtles, which typically weigh between 300-400 lbs., and leatherbacks, which weigh even more.
Take a look at some photos of the Kemp’s ridley on Hilton Head.
To keep turtles safe through nesting season, here is some advice from conservationists:
- Turn off outdoor lights and close drapes and blinds on beachfront property
- Knock down sandcastles and fill holes – they are obstacles for moms and hatchlings
- Clean up food and trash that might attract predators
- Call local sea turtle patrol if you see a problem or spot an unmarked nest
- Do not disturb nests, hatchlings or turtles (note: it is illegal to touch sea turtles)