CUMBERLAND ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles is on.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says the first clutch of loggerhead eggs was found Monday morning buried in the sand on a Cumberland Island beach. They say the nest, made Saturday night, marked Georgia’s 32nd year of comprehensive marine turtle nest monitoring and the seventh straight year that Cumberland National Seashore had the first nest.
Loggerheads, Georgia’s leading marine turtle and a protected species, nest on all barrier islands in the state. The DNR says the season will be in full swing by June. Many are wondering if 2020 can top last year’s 3,950 nests, the most since extensive monitoring began in 1989.
WHAT YOU CAN 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 on 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. About a third of the sea turtles found dead or hurt in Georgia in 2019 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.)
Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia DNR