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It’s Sea Turtle Nesting Season on Hilton Head Island

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Sea Turtles begin nesting on Hilton Head Island’s beaches in May through October. All sea turtles are listed as endangered and the Loggerhead is the most common sea turtle species nesting on Hilton Head Island beach. A female turtle may travel over a thousand miles to make it back to the same beach where she hatched as a baby, and it’s this same beach where she will lay her own eggs as an adult.

But did you know that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles will make it to adulthood? What can you do to ensure the safety of turtle moms and hatchlings?

baby turtle returning to sea

Leave only your footprints on the beach. Be sure to flatten sandcastles and fill in holes when you're headed home for the day, they can create deadly obstacles and traps for tiny hatchlings.

Lights out. Artificial light discourages adult turtles from nesting and attracts hatchings toward danger. Oceanfront homes must turn off outside lights 10pm-6am through October. Blinds/drapes should be closed as well. To report light violations, contact Town of Hilton Head Island Code Enforcement Officers at 843-341-4643.

Protect the nests. Never disturb a sea turtle nest, a nesting sea turtle, or a hatchling. If you have your pets on the beach, ensure that they are kept away from nests too.

Put your stuff away. Remove any unattended beach furniture and other items from the beach at night. Mother turtles and hatchlings have died from entanglement in beach furniture. We have partnered with Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Patrol to install a "Beach Toy Borrow Bin" located outside The Dunes House to help keep plastics out of the ocean. Read more here.

sea turtle safety pdf

Palmetto Dunes Cares Hosts Turtle Talks

Interested in learning more about sea turtles and how you can help? Starting Wednesday, June 7 through August 23rd, Palmetto Dunes Cares will host a weekly Turtle Talk, led by a member of the Sea Turtle Patrol of Hilton Head. The talk will educate participants on what they can do to help preserve Hilton Head Island’s hatching sea turtles and learn what is happening on our nesting beach. 

The program, designed for both visitors and residents, is fun, educational, and appropriate for all ages. The cost to attend is $20 per person (adults and children) and all children under the age of 12 require adult supervision. The Turtle Talks will be held on the beach at the Dunes House from 8-9 PM. Online registration is required and this event sells out every week!

Event proceeds benefit the Palmetto Dunes Cares Fund, a charitable giving initiative targeting the areas of health, environment, arts and culture, community development, and education within the greater Hilton Head area.

Palmetto Dunes Turtle Trot 5k is Back

racers running on the beach during turtle trot 5k

The Palmetto Dunes Turtle Trot 5k is back for 2023! Have fun while supporting a good cause. This is a family-friendly fun run series held on the beach in Palmetto Dunes in June, July, August on Wednesday mornings and on Thanksgiving morning. Walk or run the 3.1-mile beach route while you enjoy the beautiful views of Hilton Head Island!

Registration is online only and is $30 prior to race day and $35 day of the race. Registration includes a t-shirt. Kids under 12 run for free and can purchase a t-shirt for $15. All races begin at 8am, Wednesdays, June 7-August 23, and November 23 as well.

*Cut off for registration is race day at 7:30 a.m. Once you are registered, you can review the event info., pre-race packet pick, parking, the race day schedule, and more on the PDPOA.RUN website.

Race proceeds benefit the Palmetto Dunes Cares Fund, a charitable giving initiative targeting the areas of health, environment, arts and culture, community development, and education within the greater Hilton Head area.

Weekly Turtle Trackers Learning Stations at the General Store

group of volunteers and visitors at the Turtle Trackers booth outside of the Palmetto Dunes General Store

A Turtle Trackers Sea Turtle Learning Station, designed to help educate visitors and residents about sea turtles and how to protect them with proper beach etiquette, will be set up outside in front of the General Store entrance on Mondays from 9 AM- 11 AM starting May 22nd through August 14th. Be sure to stop by next time you see the tent out front or check the Turtle Tracker’s calendar for their upcoming Turtle Talk events.

As you can see, we love our sea turtles here in Hilton Head. Be sure to keep an eye out for one of our Loggerhead Sea Turtle residents during your next trip to Palmetto Dunes, and help us keep them safe!

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