Debris endangers sea turtles

Image by flickr user jdebnerImage by 20080629turtle.jpg Loggerheads, who nest during the busy summer beach season, can get tangled up in things left behind on beaches, such as chairs or tents.

Stuff left on Folly Beach doesn't just affect beachgoers. It's also posing a hazard for loggerhead sea turtles, whose nesting season coincides with the big summer beach season. Chairs, tents, and trash often cause trouble for loggerheads who are looking to lay eggs, not to mention the hatchlings trying to make it from the dunes to the ocean.

From ABC News 4:

Marty Morganello scours Folly Beach picking up bits of trash. Friday morning, he had his hands full removing things left on the beach yesterday.

"Beach chairs are huge ones. They get blown away easily. They also leave baskets of toys, boogie boards, towels and clothing," according to Morganello.

Morganello is the co-chairman of the Surfrider Foundation and says lots of visiting beachgoers leave their tents up since they'll be coming back the next day. But he says they have no idea that their gear poses a real hazard for loggerhead turtles.

"They crawl up on the beach just looking for the dunes and they crawl through torn down shade structures and get entangled and get distressed," Morganello said.

Morganello and the Charleston chapter of the Surfrider Foundation are trying to get Folly Beach to enact some sort of beach debris law. The town currently has no ordinance regarding things being left behind. Isle of Palms recently passed just such a law, mainly due to the work of the island's turtle team.

The good news, though, is that loggerhead nest counts are up significantly this year, as The Post and Courier reported earlier this month:

For May, the latest figures available, scientists estimated the state beaches held 520 loggerhead nests, triple the number of estimated nests in previous years. If the trend continues, the estimate could climb to about 5,000 nests by the end of the loggerhead reproductive season in October. That would nearly double last year’s nest estimates, said Dubose Griffin, state sea turtle program coordinator.

“We’re having a big year,” Griffin said.