A loggerhead sea turtle nested at the top of the beach near the 66th Avenue North beach access early Monday, laying 90 eggs around 4 a.m.
The bum was lucky enough to arrive at dawn at the same time as two Myrtle Beach State Park rangers, who were relocating the eggs to a safer location.
It was far out, y’all. Way too cool.
In 13 years of beachcombing, I had only come across one other nest. About ten years ago, I was hunting sharks’ teeth near Springmaid Pier when I noticed dozens of seagulls, all near the surf and facing the dunes. I’m an inquisitive beach bum, so I hobbled down shore to see what all the excitement was about. Well, the scene was rather gruesome. The gulls had gathered to feast on hatchling turtles that had just broken sand and were making their way to the ocean. I “saved” as many of them as I could, carrying them to the surf and chasing the persistent gulls away. Yes, Mother Nature can be cruel.
Rangers Ann Wilson and Amanda Jenkins were so very informative as a small group of beachcombers gathered at the nest this morning. In the photo above, Ranger Jenkins, left, and Myrtle Beach resident Erin Armbrester (right) carefully remove and count the eggs. Miss Erin volunteered to help and did so with supervision from the rangers.
Ranger Wilson told the bum that this was the fourth nest found in Myrtle Beach this year. Loggerheads lay between 60 and 180 eggs in a nest. The loggerhead nesting and hatching season is May 1 to October 1.
It takes loggerheads around 25 years to reach adulthood; they grow up to five feet in length and weigh between 200 and 300 pounds.
Mrs. Loggerhead crawled ashore at a 45-degree angle. She dug a chamber an arms-length deep, laid her eggs, covered them, and headed straight down the beach and out to sea (photos of her trail below). The eggs will hatch in six to eight weeks.
It’s important for coastal dwellers to reduce artificial lighting along the oceanfront as much as possible. Hatchlings head for the horizon with the most illumination. It’s natural for them to crawl toward the glow of the moon and toward the reflection of the moon and stars off the surf.
The public is discouraged from approaching sea turtle nests. Instead, call the Myrtle Beach State Park at 238-0874 or South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE) at 237-9821 or 235-8755.