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2021 S.C. sea turtle nest count will exceed 2020 total

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:07 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 12:29 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - State data shows more loggerhead turtle nests were counted on South Carolina beaches this year than in 2020.

Officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources counted more than 5,600 sea turtle nests this year, with data still being tallied. The final 2020 count was 5,560.

A record of nearly 8,800 nests were counted in 2019.

Loggerheads are the Palmetto State’s primary nesting sea turtles. But the department this year reported a Kemp’s ridley nest and five green sea turtle nests.

DNR state sea turtle coordinator Michelle Pate says 16% of nests were washed away last year, including some by Hurricane Isaias.

This year, 3.4% of eggs, about 17,900 of the total 524,600, were lost, including a larger share to predators.

The SCDNR began monitoring sea turtle nesting activities and strandings in the late 1970s.

There are approximately 186 miles of ocean-facing sandy beaches in South Carolina that provide suitable nesting habitat for sea turtles, SCDNR’s website states. To date, loggerheads, green turtles, leatherbacks and rarely Kemp’s ridleys sea turtle nests have been recorded on South Carolina beaches. By far the most common nesting species is the loggerhead.

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