Dune erosion, storm surge destroy some Myrtle Beach State Park sea turtle nests

State News

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – More than 100 dead sea turtle hatchlings were found in North Myrtle Beach and volunteers in the Garden City area have already lost three to four nests, all thanks to Hurricane Isaias.

Myrtle Beach State Park also lost three sea turtle nests out of fifteen.

Eight feet of sand dunes at the Myrtle Beach State Park went away during the storm but then more sand piled on top of these nest screens, making it harder for volunteers to uncover the nests.

“I don’t think they’re going to be found unless a miracle happens,” said park ranger Ann Wilson. “What’s going on is really volunteers, you know, probably in the northern half of the state, they’re just hitting their beaches for the last two days.”

It’s back-breaking work she says, digging and trying to find wooden markers volunteers and rangers formerly put in place.

“We’re going to have a little bit more, to be honest with you, death and destruction, just because we couldn’t get them out,” said Wilson.

Isaias hit just three to four weeks into hatchling season, which means nests hadn’t emerged yet.

“We had to dig out probably that much sand. We had to find the turtle screens, dig them out,” Wilson pointed out.

In Hurricane Dorian, it was better news, because 50% of the state’s nest had hatched and emerged.

For now, the rest of hurricane season remains unpredictable, so it’s difficult decision-making on where to place markers and screens.

“There’s only so much you can do when a storm comes,” Wilson said.

Beachgoers can help by picking up trash, filling in holes with sand, smashing sandcastles and turning off lights.

“It’s funny because a ton of people have been coming up onto the beach while we’re digging out and honestly, it’s almost like we’re talking to them, but if we keep talking, stop and keep talking to everybody we’ll get nothing done,” said Wilson. “And as they’re going thanks for what you’re doing, I’m like, please go pick up trash, because that helps!”

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