Strandings on Folly Beach 2000

The presence of sea turtles on Folly Beach is not always a welcome sight.

One of our most dreaded sightings is a stranded sea turtle -- one that has come ashore, not to nest, but as the result of injury, disease, or death at sea.

So far this year, Folly has had 10 strandings: 6 of them in a 45 day period, 2 of them on the same day -- all dead loggerheads. FIve of the ten strandings appeared to have sustained severe injuries, possibly from collisions with boats; two were determined by necropsy to have died acutely with the trachea showing signs of "suffocation." For a sea turtle, that essentially means being drowned.

Worse, Folly's experience with stranding is duplicated all along the SC coast. There were 94 reported strandings in South Carolina during 1999. This year, there have 136. 59 of those were on Charleston's four beaches; 36 of that 59 were on Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island. Most of the strandings occur between May 1st and July 31st -- the time when offshore turtle and human activities converge.

The loss of every sea turtle that has survived the 20-30 years to reach their sub-adult and adult life stage is significant. Not only is that individual lost, but its potential to reproduce is gone. For an endangered species, this is especially critical. As one biologist has said, "Losing an adult turtle is like losing 1,000 eggs on the beach."

Strandings 2000
April 211500 E. - WashoutLoggerheadImmatureBadly decomposed
May 5PierLoggerheadImmature (approx. 27" x 24")Left posterior of carapace missing; probable collision injury
May 21400 E.LoggerheadAdult male (approx. 42" x 36")No visible injuries -- very healthy-looking; necrospy-determined probable "suffocation"
May 271500 E. - WashoutLoggerheadAdult male (approx. 40" x 38") No visible injuries -- healthy-looking.
May 271200 E.LoggerheadAdult female (approx. 34" x 33")Small puncture wound over right eye.
June 2CGS-EastLoggerheadAdult female (approx. 40" x 37")No visible injuries -- very healthy-looking; recent death ("fresh"); necropsy-determined probable "suffocation"; loaded with eggs near final development stage
July 61500 E. - WashoutLoggerheadImmature (approx. 24" x 22")Right eye injured; fairly heavy barnacle load on carapace; otherwise healthy-looking; recently death.
July 7CGS-EastProbable LoggerheadImmature (approx. 22" x 21")No head and deep blade-shaped gash on left rear carapace; about to fall apart.
August 101681-EastLoggerheadImmature (approx. 22" x 21")No injuries noted; fairly heavy barnacle load on carapace.
November 269 W.LoggerheadAdult (approx. 33" x 32")Head and left front flipper missing; carapace cleanly "sliced".