Observing a Hatching Nest
View video of sea turtle boil by Barbara Bergwerf
Thank you for your interest in sea turtle conservation. The SCDNR marine turtle conservation program is dedicated to the protection and conservation of sea turtles. Therefore, the public is discouraged from attempting to observe a nest when hatchlings are emerging. While it is not possible to know exactly when a nest will hatch, it is also harmful to the hatchlings to be exposed to human interaction while they crawl to the ocean. Hatchlings are susceptible to predators and disorientation from artificial light. If people are present, there is the potential for the hatchlings to be stepped on or disoriented from even the smallest amount of light from a mobile phone, a white t-shirt or tennis shoes. Any disturbance to the hatchlings during their emergence is unlawful. Therefore, we ask that you enjoy this video of a nest and allow the hatchlings to emerge naturally.
If you encounter sea turtle hatchlings on the beach or an emerging nest, it is unlawful to disturb them and it can be harmful:
- Do not stand or sit on the sand dunes; it is unlawful to walk on the dunes.
- Do not approach any sea turtle hatchlings and give them plenty of space.
- Do not handle or hold sea turtle hatchlings.
- Do not carry, guide or help sea turtle hatchlings to the ocean.
- Do not shine any lights on the hatchling regardless of the color of the light. Do not turn on your cell phone.
- Do not take any pictures of the hatchlings; flash photography is harmful to the hatchling.
- Any disturbance to a sea turtle nest or emerging hatchlings is unlawful and may harm the animal.
Find out who to call if you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle.
If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, please call SCDNR's 24-hour 1-800-922-5431.
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is the exact location of the animal?
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
- What is the approximate size of the turtle?
- Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
- What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?
If the turtle is alive, please be prepared to stay with it until help arrives.