Edisto Beach is committed to conservation and preservation. That’s why the town makes a concerted effort to protect the area’s animals and nature as a whole, especially the loggerhead sea turtles.
Loggerhead sea turtles are an endangered species that nest all along Edisto Beach, the beach at nearby Botany Bay, and on the nearby barrier islands just off the coast. In fact, they nest all along the southeastern US shore.
They crawl up the shore from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to dig a nest in the sand and release their clutch (eggs). Once loggerheads release their clutch, they cover the nest with sand and crawl back into the water.
While the lucky few will get the chance to see this happen, many will only know that sea turtles were around by viewing their tracks in the sand. Luckily, Edisto Beach has a committed group of volunteers who protect the nests and the turtles, which helps ensure loggerheads are safe.
However, this protection means residents and visitors need to be aware of and abide by specific rules on the beach, the most important of which involves light pollution.
Sea turtle hatchlings are confused by and drawn to artificial light. That means when they hatch, instead of heading into the ocean, they can move toward street lights, homes, and other sources of artificial light. In an ideal setting, hatchlings crawl out of their nests and head right into the water. They know instinctively what they need to do, so it is easier for them if humans reduce as much light pollution as possible.
Here are some ways Edisto’s residents and visitors help protect loggerheads:
- All lights on the beach must be turned off at dusk from May 1 through October 31
- Drapes must be closed if indoor lights are visible on the beach
- Turtle eggs must never be moved
- State, federal, and local laws protect sea turtles
- Collect all litter on the beach
- Remove all beach chairs, toys, tents, and other items from the beach before nightfall
- Fill in any dug holes or moats
- Dogs must be on a leash from May to November
- Stay away from nesting turtles, turtle nests, and turtle hatchlings
- Use approved red-light flashlights when on the beach
Should you see any problems involving sea turtles or witness a stranded sea turtle, call the non-emergency dispatch line at 843-549-2211.