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Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 NMB Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Nests: 21
  In Situ: 2
  Relocated: 19 (90.4%)
  Inventoried: 21 (100%)
False Crawls: 9

Estimated Eggs to Date: 2483
  Eggs Lost: 28 (1.1%)
  Hatched Eggs: 2280
  Emerged Hatchlings: 2026
  Mean Incubation Duration (all): 54.8 days
  Mean Clutch Count: 120.1 eggs (Relocated Only)

Mean Hatch Success: 92.1%
Mean Emergence Success: 81.2%
Nest Success: 95.2%
Beach Success: 70%

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2017 Briarcliff Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Nests: 4
  Relocated: 4 (100%)
  Inventoried: 4 (100%)
False Crawls: 1

Estimated Eggs to Date: 544
  Eggs Lost: 15 (2.7%)
  Hatched Eggs: 437
  Emerged Hatchlings: 319
  Mean Incubation Duration (all): 53.7 days
  Mean Clutch Count: 136 eggs (Relocated Only)

Mean Hatch Success: 78.9%
Mean Emergence Success: 57%
Nest Success: 100%
Beach Success: 80%

Plus 1 nest relocated from Arcadian Shore Beach for a total of 5 Nests

Kathy.....Large Live Loggerhead

Kathy was found by Horry County Sanitation workers early on November 1st, laying on the beach just above the high tide line in front of the Hilton, Kingston Plantation, in the unincorporated section of Horry County, just north of the Apache Pier.  SC DNR was quickly notified, SC DNR called NMB STP to investigate and transport to SC Sea Turtle Care Center in Charleston.

Kathy was a very emaciated, lethargic loggerhead, weighing 123 pounds.   Kathy was covered with puff mud and barnacles.  She also had a significant amount of leeches on her eyelids, snares and soft tissue around neck, flippers and inside of her mouth.  She also was found to have an old, healed boat strike wound on her carapace.   Kathy's rear flipper may have been affected by this boat strike, she has very little movement in them.  A December 1st CT Scan showed no severe damage to her spine.

Kathy also defecated two pieces of plastic........

A very sick turtle.......

 A HUGE thanks to Horry County Sanitation and Horry County Police for reporting this turtle.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


On Oct 21st reports started coming in about an entangled large sea turtle just off the end of the Apache Pier.  A turtle was seen coming up to the surface in the same general location for a couple of days.  NMB STP made a quick trip to the pier but could not see the turtle.  SC DNR was notified and they called in the SC DNR Law Enforcement who came to the Pier on Sunday,  Oct 22,  two Law Enforcement Officials spent over an hour dragging the vacinity off the pier where the turtle was seen.  The turtle made one brief appearance as the boat was getting ready to leave and then disappeared again..

As the boat was leaving, call came in fron the other side of the pier, we have a hooked loggerhead.  Sure enough, a large juvenile loggerhead,  This poor guy was in rough shape, missing a good share of it's right front flipper.  The raw part of the injury was where the hook was located.  The turtle thrashed around and tried to dislodge the hook with it's mouth.  Several attempst were made to net the turtle, using a large drop net especially made by the NMB STP for large turtles.  The turtle evaded the net, swam under the pier and broke the line.

Many bystanders claimed to have seen this turtle before, watching the turtle from the pier and feeling bad for the damaged flipper.  Some claimed to have seen it for weeks.

Then, on Wednesday, Oct 25, call came that around 9AM, the turtle had been hooked again, this time around the mouth and several fisherman had been able to net it.  Despite it's heavy weight, it was hauled up onto the Pier.  The NMB STP could not respond to the call so notified SC DNR who immediately sent two of their staff up to the Pier, a 2.5 hour drive from Charleston.

Thus begins Clumpy's journey in the SC SeaTurtle Care Center.  Clumpy arrived late in the afternoon, weighing in at a hefty 142 pounds, fiesty as ever.  Quick triage, most obvious wound was the missing front flipper, thought to be the result of a prior entanglement.  Although healing, marine leeches invaded the raw wound, causing an infection.   Radiosgraphs showed two broken hook fragments, one in injured flipper, the other in the esophagus.

Clumpy never lost her appetite and within days was eating well.  Shortly after arriving she did pass several pieces of marine debris including wood, monofilament line, fishing lures and styrofoam floats.  Her fecal matter also included different types of fish bones as well as a stingray barb.  It is felt she was hanging around the Pier a while, feeding on scraps and snagging on lines.

By November 1st, Clumpy was moved into the recovery area of the Zucher Family Sea Turtle Care Center.   Still active and very fiesty......a wonderful turtle

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tragic Bulls Island Stranding

NMB STP Volunteer went to Bulls Island, Cape Romain with her daughter, hoping to find shells and experince this unique barrier island.  And what and experience on the island she had!!!.....Per Cynthia

"I had heard that the shelling on Bulls Island was great, so I made reservations to take the ferry over the the island for my daughter, Chelsea Shoop's, birthday. We starting walking the beach and found lots of sand dollars, but heard that we could find some larger shells near the Boneyard on the northern part of the island. As we ventured into that area, Chelsea yelled over to me from behind a fallen tree. When I got to where she was standing, I could see she was upset. There was a stranded sea turtle trapped between fallen trees and debris. I could tell she had been there a while because her back flippers were mostly buried in the sand. We knew the tide was coming in and was beginning to reach her, so we called the ferry operator to see if we could get some help to move her. The biologist from the ferry arrived about 10 minutes later. While we waited, I decided to try and give to  call NMB STP since I knew we weren't far from the Sea Turtle Hospital in Charleston and you could give me some advice on how to proceed.   (NMB STP Patrol called SC DNR Stranding Hot line, gave contact information, Michelle from DNR immediately called Cynthia and then set off for Bulls Island.)

The biologist (I can't remember his name!) helped us move the turtle into a shady area further up the beach. He said he had put in a call for help, but had to head back to the ferry. We started pouring sea water over her to help keep her hydrated to the extent we could. It was very hot and who knew how long she had been stranded. I could see she had an injury to her head and lots of barnacles on her shell. She started to respond when the water touched her fins. 

A while later, Hannah Pierce, a sea turtle volunteer on the island, came running down to see us. She said she and another volunteer, Jim, hadn't seen a crawl on their morning check, so the turtle had been there a while. She checked her out and felt, as we did, that it wasn't a case where she could be put back in the water...she needed help. Hannah had driven as far down the beach as she could on her ATV, but the trees and incoming tide wouldn't allow her to come closer. She didn't have access to a tarp or anything else help carry her, and, with the tide coming in further and further, my daughter remembered a towel that I had in my bag. We decided it was the only way to move her safely, so we got her on the towel somehow...if it had been any smaller and she any larger, it wouldn't have worked.

We all decided leaving her was not an option! So Hannah and Chelsea started carrying her down the beach, navigating the many sharp tree limbs and trees littering the beach. Sometimes the three of us would carry her. We went as far as we could, rested for a minute, hydrated Ruby, and then staked out our next path before starting again.We estimated it was about 3/4 of a mile to the ATV, but we made it, somehow!, and lifted Ruby onto the back and headed in to the dock area. 

We were immediately greeting by representatives from the DNR and some volunteers who helped get her onto a waiting boat. Off they went to the Sea Turtle Hospital. It was an experience we will never forget!

I have volunteered with North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol for five years and, although I have never been fortunate enough to find a nest, have fallen in love with sea turtles and with protecting our beaches and these gentle creatures. My daughters have gotten up before dawn and walked my segment with me occasionally when they visited and are used to hearing me go on and on about sea turtles, lol. So when Chelsea saw this turtle in distress, there was no question that we would do whatever we could to save her. I know that these rescue stories don't always have happy endings and we are praying she is able to be saved. But we would do it again in a heartbeat to give her a chance.

I have visited the Sea Turtle hospital myself and know the amazing work they do in rehabilitating injured sea turtles. I know Ruby is in good hands and everything that can be done for her will be done. I was amazed at how quickly people responded to our call for help and did what they could to get her help as quickly as possible. I would love to be there as she is released back into the ocean, if that is to be, and to thank everyone again who helped us give her another chance."

Here are a few more photos we were able to get, including one of us with Hannah. These two girls are both so tiny...and they did most of the work!! 

Per Sea Turtle Hospital   "A 44 kg loggerhead was delivered by Michelle of SCDNR this afternoon.  The animal was caught on the shore trapped in tree roots.  PE was completely normal except for a healed wound to the top of the skull.  Severe hyperglycemia (341) and mild hyponatremia and hypochloremia. No lactates (love that I-stat).    OD cataract, OS hard to be sure.  No attempts to resist handling or move.  Animal just sat there for all the examination and therapeutics.  No emaciation.  Looks like we have a turtle that was hit on the head with a blunt strike. "    Later CT revealed Bloat had evidence of a the neurocranium being previously fractured on each side."Named Bloat or Ruby, turtle had to later be euthanized.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

2017 Briarcliffe, relocated nest, False Crawl

On June 19,   Call came in SC DNR, reported crawl and nest on Arcadian Shore Beach near swash just past Sand Beach Club.  NMB STP volunteer Larry from Braircliffe went down to investiage.  Sure although any tracks had been earased by the heavy beach traffic, area thought to be the body pit had been roped off by Horry Count Police.   Quick probe, eggs found.   Decision was made to relocate nest to the Briarcliffe Beach for protection.  Nest recorded as MB10

On September 8th, Larry discovered that some type of canine had dug into the egg cavity, with two empty eggshells on top of the sand.  Not sure if dog or coyote.  Coyotes have been seen on the beach but residents of Briarcliffe also walk with their dogs off leash.  Larry felt it was a dog.  

We dug down into egg chamber and found whole eggs so recovered the chamber and put a cage around the nest.  

Major depression with hatchling tracks was found on Sunday morning, Sept 17th.  All tracks went to the ocean.  Larry inventoried the nest 4 days later,  Sept 20th.  We found 57 hatched egg shells, 11 whole eggs of which 10 were collapsed and discolored, appeared to die in early development, 1 egg died in late development, fully formed large hatchling inside of the shell, 2 eggs were pipped, hatchling died half in and half out of the shell.  

23 eggs were missing, unaccounted for.  We do not know if taken by canine on Sept. 8 or if some were later pulled out by ghost crabs.  Briarcliffe Beach does have large ghost crabs and several large ghost crab holes we

 57 hatched egg shells, 11 whole eggs of which 10 were collapsed and discolored, appeared to die in early development, 1 egg died in late development, fully formed large hatchling inside of the shell, 2 eggs were pipped, hatchling died half in and half out of the shell.   23 eggs were missing, unaccounted for

Strange False Crawl.....On July 14th, Braircliffe STP Patrol came acorss a very large and long crawl.

Large possible body pit, probed for over 2 hours, no eggs found in the extremely soft sand.

This area was marked as a possible nest but unfortunaely extreme high tides from Hurricane Irma overwashed and laid on the beach so no emergence was ever seen.   

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Briarcliffe nests

Braircliffe Nest #4

NMB STP was notifed just beore 11PM that a large turtle was cralwing up the Braircliffe Beach.  Volunteers from the Briarcliffe Patrol were notified.  Cindy, Bob and Claire Liddle, and Larry  went out and watched the turtle nesting.  The turtle had crawled up to the back of a dune.  After nesting, she then began to crawl around in the area behind the dunes very disoriented for about 10 minutes.  After trying to steer her in the right direction for the longest time, it was decided to try a light source to see if that would help, so a flashlight on a very tight beam was shined in front of her, while the holder stood behind the turtle.  She began to follow the light to get back over the dune.  After she was back on ocean side of the dune, the light was turned  light out and she headed directly back to the ocean.  If she had continued to head to the swash, she probably would  never had found her way, so drastic measure were needed (the light beam).

"We went out this morning thinking this was going to be a breeze.  Boy, we're we fooled.  Since we stood a distance back from her last night, but saw her throwing sand, we just knew we were sure where the nest was.  I probed what looked like the body pit for an hour and found nothing.  We had actually decided to call it a false crawl.  As we began to head out I noticed an area in her crawl that was a little lower and flatter, so I stuck the probe in and on the second probe I hit the cavity.  This area was about 8 feet back from what appeared to be her pit.  We uncovered the pit and found the eggs.  Because of the location in a high vegetated area and also an area that would not be conducive for the hatchlings finding their way, we decided to relocate.  While removing the eggs, we found 9 broken eggs (using one for the DNA sample).  We relocated 113 eggs (total 122 laid) to a better area on the beach near our other relocated nests."  
Want to say thanks to Bob and Claire Liddle, Cherie Cooper, Cindy, and Betsy Cooper for their help this morning.
Moral of the story is, "Don't believe what you think you see when there is low light."

Major emergence may have taken place earlier in week.   A couple of days later,  tracks showed several hatchlings had emerged and egg shells were on top of the egg chamber.  But earlier rain and hard sand erased or did not even allow us to see any tracks. Inventory was performed on day 59.   22 Hatchlings were stuck in the bottom of a very, very deep egg cavity.  Sand was hard packed, almost like clay instead of sand.  This nest was located on top of a newly forming dune, blowing sand over the last 50 days had really built up on top of the nest.  Think the egg cavity was so deep, the hatchlings so far down, that they would never have gotten out.  Once we opened up the egg cavity, they came to life and started climbing out.  All but one were let climb out by themselves and run down the beach.  The last one still had the yolk sac attached so put back into the egg cavity to rest a couple of more days but original egg cavity was filled in so the hatchling is not as deep down as before. 

Nest laid on July 12
122 eggs, 113 eggs relocated from back of dunes
Hatchlings emerged on Sept 5
47 hatched eggs, 66 whole or unhatced
21 live hatchlings found in egg cavity, released on the beach
41.6 Hatch Success Rate

Briarcliffe Nest #3   June 29, Second crawl and nest of the morning
The turtle had come ashore and crawled to the dune attempting to climb it.  She was unsuccessful and crawled a little ways NE but then turned around and headed SW where she unsuccessfully tried to get up the dunes 2 more times.  I guess she had played softball and knew after 3 strikes you are out, so she began to head back towards the ocean but decided she had an unfinished task and began to nest below the major high tide line.  We located her egg cavity and found 126 eggs but, two were broken.  Eggs were relocated to the dunes, between the two Briarcliffe accesses.  124 eggs were relocated and we used one of the broken eggs for the DNA sample. Many thinks to Claire Liddle, Bob and Karen Lane, and Cindy for all their help. 

This nest emerged as darkness fell on Aug. 22.  Larry and Cindy checked the nest one last time after completing the inventory of nest lone hatchling had popped out, more soon followed.  All raced straight to the water.    Inventory last evening, wind blowing sand up the beach, into the dunes.  Beautiful evening, soft new sand over the egg chamber.  Larry started digging, finding soft sand deep over egg chamber.  Then he found hard packed, very moist sand, and then.... hatchlings......he started bringing them out by the handful......38 total....all trapped in the hard packed, moist sand, all very active, all eager to go....

Hatchlings emered on Aug 22.  
126 eggs, 124 relocated
116 hatched eggs, 8 whole or unhatched
38 live hatchlings released on the beach
93.55 hatch success rate

Briarcliffe Nest #2
NMB STP was called around 10:30 PM, nesting turtle on Briarcliffe Beach.  Larry was notified and he walk down and found the crawl. This nest was originally 1/2 mile NE of Land's End in the spiritual center property.  This turtle crawled up and never made it up to the dunes.  She layer and retraced her tracks almost identically (only one set of tracks).  She was off the beach before high tide so no tracks in the harder sand.  She was well below the major high tide line so nest was relocated higher into the dunes,  between the two entrances.  She laid 150 eggs (none broken).  One for DNA sample and relocated 149.  The young lady helping us was Grace from the midwest.

What was not known was another turtle was busy nesting about 1 mile further north on this same beach. Discovered the next morning.  

 Hatchlings emerged in the dark on Aug. 13.....Hard sand, no tracks up at nest but many tracks in the softer sand down by water line.  

150 eggs, 149 relocated back to the dunes
hatchlings emerged on Aug 19
143 hatched eggs, 5 whole eggs
8 live hatchlings released on beach
96% hatch success rate

Briarcliffe Nest #1
MNB STP was called in late evening.....Turtle nesting on Briarcliffe. Larry walked down and found the turtle on the beach still.  She was covering the nest and I hung around to see her crawl back to the water.
We went down this morning and probed until we found the nest cavity.  Based on its location and the fact there were some broken eggs, we decided to move the nest into the Briarcliffe area.  
The turtle laid 146 eggs.  We relocated 143.  2 eggs were broken of which we used one for DNA and one egg was misshapen with no contents in it.  After relocating we put up poles and rope to mark the new site.
This turtle laid a few weird eggs, a couple of real large ones, a couple that were elongated as if two shells didn't separate and the one I mentioned before that had no contents.
We had great help from Cherie, Jack, Beth, Vicki and Mark, Tara and Leigh.  Thanks to all of them.  Also Morgan, Vicki's grandaughter was able to help with DNA egg.  I have attached photos and will send others.

Large egg, empty shell. oblong egg, found morning after nest was laid

Briarcliffe Nest #1

146 eggs, 143 relocated.  One egg was just a shell, no contents inside. 

Hatchlings emerged on Aug 4
131 hatched eggs, 12 unhatcched
51 live hatchlings, stuck at bottom of egg chamber, released on the beach
91.6% Hatch Success Rate

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