First Horry County sea turtle nest of the year located in Myrtle Beach

Photo from Myrtle Beach City Government

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Horry County’s first sea turtle nest was located Wednesday morning, according to Myrtle Beach State Park.

Myrtle Beach City Government says the nest was discovered by city employee BJ Sheppard at 42nd Avenue North at 5:21 a.m.

Myrtle Beach State Park Ranger Anne Wilson says many of the city’s employees that work on the beach¬†are trained on what to do if¬†they find a nest.

In less than an hour, a team from Myrtle Beach State Park specially trained by the SC Department of Natural Resources was in the area working to relocate the mother turtle’s 130 ping-pong ball-sized eggs. The nest is now at a much safer location at the state park, officials say.

Park Ranger Wilson says nests are often relocated because the state park has a daily patrol and a lights out ordinance to protect the baby sea turtles from disorienting artificial lights.

This particular nest is a Loggerhead sea turtle nest, Wilson says.

Last year, park rangers estimate they had between 15 and 18 nests. According to the SC DNR, female turtles nest on average four times a season. The eggs will incubate for around 60 days, and two thirds of the way through the incubation, the temperature of the nest will determine the sex of the hatchings. SeaWorld researchers say lower nest temperatures produce more males and higher temperatures produce more females.

When it’s time for the nest to hatch,¬†the baby turtles¬†emerge at night and crawl towards the ocean using several cues, including the¬†light reflecting off the ocean, to find their way.

In June, the Myrtle Beach State Park has several programs focusing on sea turtles. Wilson also says the park hosts a public sea turtle patrol Friday mornings at 6:10 a.m.

For more information visit the park’s website here. You can also get updates about turtles in the area by following S.C.U.T.E. on Facebook or visiting seaturtle.org.