Nature is not always kind to Sea Turtles. It is estimated that only one in one thousand baby turtles survive to adulthood.
If a nest is not located above the high tide line or when unusally high tides occur, nests can be washed away. Nests which are known to be in danger when laid are relocated.
Raccoons & Foxes
Raccoons and foxes enjoy eating turtle eggs. Netting is placed over each nest to keep them out. On Harbor Island, a repellent is also sprinkled at each nest.
A big threat to sea turtles on Harbor Island is Ghost Crabs. They love to eat the eggs and will also go after the hatchlings while they are still under the sand. Ants will also attack the hatchlings.
Harbor Island has been experiencing signifiant erosion. This means that there is very little dry sand between the high tide line and the dune line where the female can lay her eggs.
Humans are the greatest threat to Sea Turtles. Shrimp and fishing nets entangle the turtles, often resulting in death. All shrimp boats in South Carolina are equipped with turtle excluder devices (TED). Turtles are also injured and killed by being struck by boats. The following are examples of threats that anyone on the beach can help prevent.
Sandcastles and other obstructions, like beach chairs, are a problem for both the nesting female and the hatchling. Females are deterred from their crawl if they run into an impediment and hatchlings can fall ino trenches and get trapped.
Sea Turtles eat debris that is floating in the water. Turtles confuse plastic objects and bags for jelly fish, which are a staple of their diet.
Lights disorient female turtles and hatchlings. If there are distracting lights, the female may return to the sea without laying her eggs. Hatchings will head to lights on the shoreline or on the beach rather than to the water. Turtles are dependent on the glow from the moon and stars on the water to guide them.