Hilton Head Island is so very fortunate the Loggerhead Sea Turtle population has decided to call our island home. But with this gift comes a great deal of responsibility. As stewards of this delicate land and the creatures that inhabit it, we have an obligation to preserve their natural environment and keep them safe. The public’s cooperation is both requested and much appreciated in this endeavor.
Adult female turtles will build their nests every two to four years and deposit about 120 eggs, covering them with sand to protect from predators. After about 60 days, the baby turtles hatch and the hatchlings begin to make their way to the shoreline. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that many of them fall victim to predators, such as birds or crabs.
That makes it even more important to help as many as we can. The best way to do that is simple, but very powerful. Turn off the lights. Since hatchlings emerge from their nests at night, they follow the brightest light to guide them to the sea, which should be the moon. Street lights and building lights disorient the hatchlings and if they head in the wrong direction, they can easily fall prey to dehydration in the sun or being caught by natural predators.
These artificial lights can also discourage the mature female from nesting and laying her eggs. To do its part, the town of HIlton Head Island requires that any building lights visible on the beach be shaded or turned off after 10PM from May 1 to October 31. Additionally, any windows facing the beach must be covered by drapes or shade screens.
According to the town of Hilton Head Island, guests can help to protect the sea turtle population by doing the following:
- Make sure no interior or exterior lights from your home, temporary residence or vacation unit illuminate the beach after 10 p.m.;
- Floodlights are prohibited. Make sure your exterior floodlights are disabled during nesting season.
- Make sure exterior wall mounted fixtures are fitted with hoods so that no light illuminates the beach.
- Low profile luminaries are to be used in parking lots and the lights are to be positioned so that no light illuminates the beach
- Lights illuminating dune walkovers of any areas oceanward of the dune must be turned off during nesting season
- Close curtains, blinds or shutters after 10PM to avoid interior lights illuminating the beach
- Ocean front homes that do not have window treatments are required to have tinted or filmed glass with a shading co-efficient of .45 or less and a minimum 5 year warranty;
- Report any violations to the Town of Hilton Head Island Code Enforcement Officers.
Hilton Head Island and the Loggerhead Sea Turtles thank you!