My lovefest with Loggerhead Sea Turtles continues this week at the table. . .
Our family vacation to Harbor Island was most memorable due to all the turtle activity this year. . .
By the end of our week’s stay, the 3 mile-stretch-of-beach, had a recorded number of 64 turtle nests~ closing in on the record of 66 nests set in 1999~ twice as many than in 2010~
Since we’ve returned the number of nests has surpassed the record set in 1999~ bringing the nest count up to 67 :-)
The greatest threat to Loggerhead Turtles is loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development, predation of nests, and human disturbances (such as coastal lighting and housing developments) that cause disorientation during the emergence of hatchlings.
Other major threats include incidental capture in longline fishing, shrimp trawling and pollution. All shrimp boats in South Carolina are equipped with turtle excluder devices (TED)~ Yay!
I found turtle chocolate molds from Amazon, here, that I used to mold brown sugar~
Despite the threat to our waistlines~ white & dark chocolate hatchlings emerged to accompany chocolate & real shells on a brown sugar beach~
The turtle hatchlings are as challenged climbing the frosted cupcake as they are making their way to the ocean~
I’m afraid these particular hatchlings’ days are numbered. . .
I used Shell molds from Wilton to sculpt sand shells & fill with chocolate~
Approximately 25 volunteers participate in the Harbor Island Turtle Project, searching each morning at sunrise for turtle tracks and nests. All nests are monitored until they hatch and data is submitted to the SC Department of Natural Resources and SeaTurtle.org
The nest is probed to locate the eggs. The sand is removed to confirm that eggs have been laid. If the nest is in a safe location, the sand is replaced and the nest is marked.
The eggs are then placed in a new hole that has been dug to the same depth as the original nest. The nest is staked and covered with a protective barrier net.
After 45 to 75 days the eggs hatch. The babies stay in the sand for several days before emergence. A characteristic indentation is visible when the babies have hatched and are beginning to dig their way to the surface.
The baby turtles usually come out or “boil” in the middle of the night.
A nest is inventoried three days after evidence of a “boil”. The hatched shells and the unhatched eggs are counted. If any of the unhatched eggs are considered viable, they are reburied.
Occasionally, there are stragglers found in the nest when it is inventoried. These babies are placed on the beach so that they will find their own way to the water.
We were thrilled to be able to watch the release of 8 stragglers early one morning~ a first for us. . .
You can’t help but cheer them on, keeping your fingers crossed, knowing how many predators~birds, crabs & fish~ they are up against.
It is estimated that only 1 in 1000 hatchlings make it to adulthood~ with mature females returning, sometimes over thousands of miles, to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs.
Female Loggerheads lay 4 to 7 nests per season, typically about 14 days apart.
These little turtle napkin rings had just hatched from a UPS box during my visit there~
I snapped them up to protect them from any predators that might be lurking and released them onto my table :-)
Crabs, ants, raccoons, foxes, and birds target turtle eggs and hatchlings. If they are lucky enough to reach adulthood, sea turtles are relatively immune to natural predation, except for the occasional shark attack.
Dogs can be a threat to turtles nests, digging for eggs, if unsupervised on the beach~
Unsupervised dogs can also be a threat to unsuspecting starfish for tablescapes. . .
Loggerhead table details:
Ivory Chargers/Plates- Pier 1
Hurricanes, Shell Bowls, Dinner Plates, Placemats – Kohl’s
Napkins- Pottery Barn, last year
Turtle Napkin Rings – shop in St. Helena, SC
Flatware, Woven Chargers – World Market