WILDLIFE ON KIAWAH ISLAND

LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES ON KIAWAH

Kiawah Island serves as vital nesting beach for loggerhead turtles. Nesting patrols and monitoring efforts are carried out by a group of dedicated volunteers supported by the Town of Kiawah Island.
General description
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Download Loggerhead brochure (pdf)

The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) was listed as a threatened species in 1978 under the Endangered Species Act and the State Nongame Act. They are residents of the open ocean and make their way onto the Kiawah beaches during the nighttime hours to dig a nest and lay their eggs. In coastal waters, loggerheads eat primarily whelks, crabs, fish, sponges and jellyfish.

Nesting activity typically begins in mid-May and will continue into early August. Nests normally contain between 100 and 150 eggs. The eggs will hatch in approximately 2 months and the hatchlings will make their way down the beach and into the surf. Female loggerheads are quite wary when they come ashore to nest and can be easily frightened or disoriented by lights or loud noises. Please do not approach or disturb nesting turtles and abstain from shining lights at them. 

Nesting efforts are monitored on our beaches by a group of resident volunteers each year. The Turtle Program has been in existence since 1973 and the Town of Kiawah Island has provided funding and logistical support to the program since 1990. During the nesting season, volunteers patrol the entire beach by truck each morning to locate nests laid the previous night. An attempt is made to locate the actual nest and mark it with a numbered post. Nests which are located too low on the beach are moved landward in order to protect them from being washed over by high tides.  When nests begin to hatch, numerous groups of volunteers patrol sections of beach daily to check for emergence of hatchlings. At some point after hatching, each nest is excavated and an inventory is taken of the nest contents. Detailed records are kept of all activities and a report is prepared annually for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The loggerhead is one of only seven species of marine turtles still in existence today.  Adult loggerheads can be up to 3 feet in length and weigh as much as 350 pounds.  These turtles are believed to have a life span of 50-65 years.  The loggerheads’ name refers to the size of its head, which is larger in proportion to its body than other marine turtles.  The head and upper shell (carapace) are dark and reddish brown; the flippers and lower shell (plastron) are light yellow.  The outer layer of plates on the shell and head, called scutes, can be used to distinguish the various species of marine turtles
Number of nests annually on Kiawah Island
Nest monitoring on Kiawah
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SCDNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program Homepage
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View details on 2014 nesting activity from Seaturtle.org
2014 Sea Turtle Nest Count
105
News and Information
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 View 2012 Turtle Nest Location Map
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View 2011 Turtle Nest Location Map
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Town of Kiawah Island
21 Beachwalker Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
(843) 768-9166
Email a Town Biologist
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 View 2013 Turtle Nest Location Map
Wildlife Sightings and Information
 
NEW 2014 Bobcat GPS Location Data
 
FAQ about Kiawah Wildlife 
 
Google Earth map of wildlife sightings by residents and visitors
 
Kiawah Island Bird Checklist (PDF)
 
"Wildlife As We See It" provided by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort
 
Report an interesting or unusual wildlife sighting to Town Biologists