Showing Up for Sea Turtles

The Beach Drop for Sea Turtles Raised $14,000 for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

There are sea turtle teams all up and down the South Carolina coast, doing the hard work it takes to protect nests on their beaches. It’s heartpath work that is mostly done by corps of volunteers. Each morning from April until September, groups go out at dawn to look for crawls, locate nests and either cage or move and cage the eggs. It’s hot and sandy, and the work doesn’t end until all of the nests have been protected.

In Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, there are added elements: You have to take a boat to get to the nesting islands and there are thousands of nests.  In 2019, we’re already above 2,000 nests and we are just hitting the peak of the season. Volunteers are dealing with 50-70 nests each day.  And on these barrier islands, many nests have to be moved to prevent over-washing from King Tides and storms.  In addition, all nests must be caged to prevent predation from mammals.

FEDERAL FUNDING IS GONE
As employees in the refuge retire or go on to other jobs, their positions are not being replaced. It is policy that we don’t understand, especially since that means that there is no longer a full-time wildlife biologist employed in this 66,000-acre refuge.

In order for the sea turtle program to be successful, it needs a paid biologist and a trapper.  The biologist oversees the volunteers and coordinates the program.  The trapper spends all year removing raccoons and mink from the outer islands.

$40,000
That’s how much it will take to pay the biologist and trapper for the extended season. When you consider the 12-14 hour days, the conditions they work in and the duration of the season, this is a very reasonable amount.

We’re at about $28,000.  Through Bird Jam at the Rusty Rudder, Birdle Jam at Awendaw Green, private donations and the first Beach Drop for Sea Turtles, we were able to get to this 70% mark.  We’ve got 30% to go, and we can get there if you donate.

MORE THAN TURTLES BENEFIT FROM THIS
Birds that nest on the beaches are showing population advantages because of the mammalian trapping.  American Oystercatchers have 2-3 hatchlings per clutch, compared with 0-1 on islands where raccoons and mink are unfettered.  If you love birds, donate to keep a trapper employed.

30 YEARS OF WORK
Cape Romain NWR is the most significant sea turtle nesting site north of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This success is not by accident.  For over 30 years, the sea turtle program has worked to increase successful hatches through nest protection and DNA collection.  We want to this this continue.

Before everyone arrived, Katie and Chris created a crawl from the shoreline towards the dunes, buried a “nest” of ping pong balls and set up the fiberglass loggerhead turtle so that they could demonstrate the work that is done for each nest by volunteers.

160 participants came out for sea turtles on Sunday, June 23 and raised $14,000 towards the program in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

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@coastalexpeditions

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