August 23, 2019

Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol Update

Freshfields Village was honored to host the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol at the 2019 Summer Farmer’s Market. The volunteers were able to meet guests and provide educational information about the island’s sea turtle nesting season. As August comes to a close, so does the Kiawah Island nesting season. Even though the island’s nesting season started earlier than normal this year, this is the typical time that the female loggerheads finish up their nesting. The island has recorded close to 560 nests this season and the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol expects that number to continue to rise. Though the mothers are no longer nesting, the patrol will continue to come across nests that were not initially found.

The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol has 8 different Hatching Patrol teams on the beach every morning. This patrol, who is in full swing right now, walks their mile or so of beach every morning, usually starting before sunrise, looking for hatchling tracks that have emerged from a nest. When a turtle nest hatches, it takes about 3 days for the babies to leave the nest, which is called an emergence. The hatchlings are born with a little tooth that helps them tear through their shell. Once out, though still attached to the egg, they start to “flatten out” (they have been curved in the egg for the past 50 or so days!) and they absorb the rest of their egg sack and eventually, they disconnect from it. YES! Hatchlings do have belly buttons! The little turtles then “clean up” their nest, marching around with their 100 brothers and sisters, truly getting stronger. They wait for the top of the nest to cool down, usually at night, then they all make their way to the ocean together.  The Hatching Patrol looks for these tiny tracks as they walk their zone.

It has been an exciting and record-breaking season so far! What will the total number of nests be on the island this season?

There are two ways you can keep up with the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol. Follow @townofkiawah on Instagram and Facebook or visit the website. You can also join the patrol on the beach while they conduct inventories on hatched nests. Please visit for a listing of inventories and their locations. Please note, you must be a guest/resident to access the island.

We would like to thank the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol volunteers for all their hard work and dedication to keep these beautiful creatures safe!