Every summer, the beaches along the southern Atlantic turn into a night-time maternity ward… for Loggerhead sea turtles, that is. Yep, we’re talking mama and baby turtles.
The moms swim the warmer climes of the Atlantic and come ashore to lay their eggs. Not just a few eggs, guys. Around 100 eggs, 4-6 times a summer. 400-600 baby turtles in three months… our jaws are dropped. Big fam central over on Folly Beach.
Here’s one right after giving birth, heading home back home —
A couple of months later, the hatchlings emerge, and make their long crawl back to the water, a journey that’s extremely important for them to “imprint” the memory of the beach, so they can return someday to lay their own eggs. Ah, the circle of turtle life! It doesn’t get any cooler.
It’s a dangerous trek for them, though. They’re vulnerable to predators like crabs, and any bright lights from people on the beach can confuse and distract them from their path. So Folly Beach, like many other beaches, has programs in place to protect them, so the species, which was once endangered, can thrive.
You might see track marks on the beach the morning after they’ve hatched, and you can go to this site to track what’s happening in each nest on Folly Beach.
Meanwhile, there’s lots you can do to help ensure the turtles continue to return to these beaches to nest, and to be sure the most hatchlings survive and make it back into the water. Or, if you’d like to get a feel for their world, check out these places to swim with them!