Tybee Island sees season’s 1st sea turtle nest

Local News

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Tybee Island has its first sea turtle nest of the season, and volunteers say there is a way to make sure more continue to pop up throughout the summer.

The nest is located on 14th Street, though Tammy Smith — the Tybee Sea Turtle Project coordinator — says the first nest typically pops up a little farther north.

Volunteers found the nest Tuesday, following a false crawl Monday night.

The project’s 60 volunteers, trained by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), know how to spot the signs. A false crawl means a nesting female came onto the beach and left her tracks, but no eggs.

“We’re looking for a pit area and thrown sand,” explained Smith of searching for a nest. “And then we’re going to start probing to find that soft pocket, which is about 6 to 8 inches down, and we’ll dig until we find the egg cavity.”

Tybee’s first nest is from a loggerhead sea turtle. Smith says volunteers can tell by the tracks that are left behind.

When Smith started volunteering two decades ago, she says the island usually had around three nests.

According to five years’ worth of data from DNR, Tybee has had, on average, about 21 nests each year.

“A lot of things have factored in helping us increase our nesting population,” said Smith.

She says it helps when people fill in holes and when trash and obstacles are out of the way. It is also important that Tybee’s beaches stay dark.

“When those babies start hatching, they’re going to start heading for the brightest spot, which is artificial lighting versus natural lighting over the water,” said Smith on the dangers of a lit beach.

The hatching process usually happens 55 to 70 days after a nest is laid.

Until the end of the season, around mid-August, volunteers will continue to scan the beaches each morning and tape off any new nests.

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