Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol

TurtleInfotopThe Sea turtle nest protection program on Kiawah has been actively helping and monitoring nests since 1973. The residents of Kiawah formed the existing Kiawah Turtle Patrol in 1989. We are one of the largest turtle patrol volunteer programs in South Carolina, and we are thrilled to have you join us!  The Kiawah Turtle Patrol operates from May 1-October 31 each year.

Who are we?

  • Trained volunteers who work with SCDNR to protect and manage sea turtle nests and hatchlings on Kiawah Island
  • One of the largest sea turtle volunteer programs in South Carolina
Why we do it?

  • Kiawah Island sees about 200-400 turtle nests each season. Nests laid on our beaches without a nest protection program have low hatch rates, typically under 10%. With our help, hatch rates for nests are over 70%.
Volunteer Options

  • hatchling - CopyNesting Patrol - Begins May 1.  Nesting Patrol is responsible for locating and marking new turtle nests, recording their locations, and providing anti-predator protection. Once Nesting Patrol identifies and marks the nest in one of the eight zones, the Hatching Patrol for that zone will take over the care of the nest. This patrol surveys the beach each morning by truck beginning at sunrise looking for turtle tracks (crawls).  Minimum Commitment is one 4-day shift.

  • Hatching Patrol - Begins when first nest is laid. Hatching Patrol is responsible for checking nests every morning to ensure the nests in their 1-mile zone have not been compromised by the elements or predators. As the time gets closer for the eggs to hatch, the patrol looks for signs of emergence. Three days after the first emergence, the patrol examines and catalogs the nest contents.  There are 7 hatching zones on Kiawah Island and volunteers are assigned to a single zone which is covered on foot.  Minimum Commitment is two 1-week shifts for Kiawah residents and one 1-week shift for non-residents and visitors.   

  • To volunteer, email Lynne Sager (Patrol Coordinator).  Please specify which patrol you would like to volunteer for, the dates you are available, and your t-shirt size.  Note:  The Kiawah Turtle Program runs close to full capacity, so not all volunteer requests can be accommodated.