NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – A combination of the high tide and storm surge from Hurricane Isaias appears to have resulted in the deaths of over 100 baby sea turtles in the Cherry Grove area of North Myrtle Beach.
Linda Mataya, with North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol, said the group was monitoring a nest located around 49th Avenue North in Cherry Grove. The turtles had hatched from their shells and it was suspected they would emerge from the nest Monday night.
According to Mataya, the turtles tried to appear during the high tide and got caught in both it and the surge from Isaias.
“I think it pushed all of the sand up and just completely buried the nest,” Mataya said.
She said the group dug through about four feet of sand Tuesday morning before finding the nest cavity. According to Mataya, 109 turtles died.
“It’s devastating because we put so much into it,” she said.
Miraculously, Mataya said three of the hatchlings were found alive by people walking along the beach. She added they were able to get them into the sea.
Monday’s storm inundated Cherry Grove with at least four feet of water at one point during the evening high tide, which was compounded by the storm surge, North Myrtle Beach spokesperson Pat Dowling said.
Mataya, whose group monitors other nests, said what happened Monday was nature. She also asked that people leave hatchlings alone if they come across one on the beach.
“They shouldn’t pick it up,” she said.