RULES AND REGULATIONS HELP KEEP THE TURTLES SAFE
Sea turtle season is the time when sea turtles come ashore to nest and lay their eggs on the island’s beaches. Loggerheads nest at night to avoid predators and overheating in the summer sun, selecting a site above the high tide line. Loggerheads are listed as a threatened species by the federal government and the state of South Carolina.
To keep sea turtles safe, here are a few guidelines from the town of Hilton Head and Amber Kuehn of Sea Turtle Patrol HHI:
- If your building is visible from the beach, turn off your outside lights at 10 p.m. (until 6 a.m.) from May 1 to Oct. 31, the nesting and hatching season for Loggerheads.
- If any of your interior lights are visible from the beach or cast light on the beach, close blinds or drapes at 10 p.m. or turn them off.
- Never leave beach umbrellas, chairs, or any other beach accessories on the beach overnight. Nesting female turtles may get tangled in them, and for hatchlings they are often impassable and disorienting.
- Marked nests should always be undisturbed. Leave only your footprints on the beach. At the end of the day, sandcastles should be flattened, all holes filled and trash removed.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, do not shine any lights or use flash photography. Stay behind the turtle so that she cannot see you. Observe from a distance.
- Never harass a turtle.
- Use red flashlights instead of white.
The town of Hilton Head’s Beach Ordinance prohibits:
- Shovels, except those that are made of wood and/or plastic and that are less than 30 inches in length and 6 inches in width.
- Digging holes in the sand that are more than 12 inches in depth.
- Leaving personal belongings on the beach overnight.
- The ordinance requires that all holes be filled so that the sand is returned to its original state before you leave the beach for the day. Holes can be death traps for sea turtle hatchlings and hazards for beach goers, especially after dark.
- Place all trash and recyclables in the appropriate receptacles.
- Never disturb a sea turtle nest, a nesting sea turtle or a hatchling.