Nesting season officially runs from May 1 through October 31.
Nesting efforts are monitored on our beaches by a group of dedicated resident volunteers each year. The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol is one of the largest turtle patrol volunteer programs in the United States and has been in existence since 1973.
The Hatching Patrol inventories the turtle nests three (3) full days after seeing signs of hatching. An inventory includes many things: determining how many live turtles emerged from the nests, how many eggs did not hatch and/or how many hatchlings did not live to make it out of the nest, and our most exciting part, to assist with releasing struggling hatchlings into the ocean.
The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol loves to share the sea turtle experience with guests and residents. There are two ways to do this:
1) Observe a nest inventory. Inventories are open to all guests and no reservations are required. Inventories take place from July through October. Click on the upcoming inventory box to see the schedule. Note: Inventories are scheduled three (3) days after a nest hatches.
2) Tag along with our hatching patrol. Each section of the beach is patrolled daily starting at 6:00 a.m. Look for our volunteers in their purple turtle patrol shirts.
Keep in mind the following when making plans to attend an inventory:
ALL inventory dates and times are subject to change, primarily due to weather conditions. (lightning and/or heavy rains) Also, a change of status with the nest (a nest might need additional time before an inventory is performed.) Both are at the discretion of the hatching team. They do their best to keep on schedule but sometimes changes have to be made.
Times listed are estimated. It is always best to arrive early.
Sea turtles are an endangered species and are protected under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Departments of Interior and Commerce. It is illegal to harm, or in any way interfere with, a sea turtle or its eggs.
Turtles are disorientated by artificial light. May through October all outdoor lighting facing seaward in beachfront units must be turned off from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Use turtle safe flashlight filters over any flashlight that you bring to the beach at night. This includes your cell phone flashlight! You can pick up free flashlight filters at the Municipal Center (4478 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy) or at the Nature Center (4000 Sea Forest Dr). Courtesy of the Town of Kiawah.
Kiawah has a Sand Hole/Metal Shovel Ordinance which prohibits digging large holes & metal shovels! Plastic shovels are allowed but can be no longer than 14” in length. This ordinance prohibits changing the contour of the beach by digging holes and being in possession of or using a metal shovel.
Leave only footprints! Dispose of your trash in containers found at every beach access.
If you see any adult sea turtles or hatchings call 843-768-9166 to report your sighting.
Ordinances are enforced by Beach Patrol (843-518-2880) and/or Town Code Enforcement Officers (843-768-9166) who are authorized to ticket and fine offenders.