In honor of World Turtle Day, we as Hilton Head islanders need to promote our coastal responsibilities. Our biggest responsibility, keeping our beaches clean and healthy for the local wildlife. May through October is a critical time for sea turtles as they nest along the shores. Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common turtle to visit Hilton Head, but can also be accompanied by green sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, and Kemp’s Ridleys sea turtles being the most endangered species. Sea turtles lay their eggs between 10pm and 5am, with an average of 120 eggs per nest. The mother turtles leave a very large track from the ocean to the shore, with an average adult sea turtle weighing 350 lbs, a turtle track is hard to miss.
The Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project brings together a fabulous team of volunteers every season to patrol beaches for new nests to be preserved. As of today, May 23rd, the team has discovered eight nests so far on the island. As more turtles start to nest, the more the team is urging us beach lovers to participate in the Bucket Challenge. The HHI Sea Turtle Protection Project is teaming up with Mermaid of Hilton Head and Seanic Paddle to promote litter cleanup on the island. Here’s how you can enter the Bucket Challenge:
- Find a large bucket. Rather than going out to buy a bucket, the team is encouraging people to find an unused bucket around the house, from a local restaurant, or rescue a bucket you find on the beach. Decorate your bucket with what inspires you the most about the coast. Showcase your creative side with personal artwork or other décor such as brightly colored duct tape and turtle stickers from Coastal Provisions.
- Collect litter off of the beach and FILL YOUR BUCKET. Be sure to make a special trip out to the beach on World Ocean Day, June 8th and World Sea Turtle Day, June 16th.
- Share photos of your filled bucket on Facebook and Instagram tagging @hhiseaturtle, @seanicpaddle, and @mermaidofhiltonhead. Describe your bucket décor, what you filled your bucket with, and what you plan to reuse your bucket for at the end of turtle nesting season.
Besides entering the Bucket Challenge, be sure you are also: turning lights off near the beach, filling in holes and knocking down sand castles, and respecting sea turtles and their nests. Human interference has dwindled the sea turtle population, and we must work hard now to reverse our effects on this species. Be sure to report sea turtles sightings to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-922-5431. To learn more about local sea turtles in Hilton Head, visit the Coastal Discovery Museum.