Strandings on Folly Beach 2002

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.

Folly had 5 strandings in 2002 -- 4 without wounds on the West end of the island within 36 hours after the opening of shrimping season, and one (a shell-damaged Kemp's Ridley) across from the lighthouse just after the Memorial Day weekend.

Folly's experience with strandings is duplicated all along the SC coast. The highest percentage of strandings in the state are on Charleston's four beaches, mostly on Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island. Most 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 2002
May 16911-WLoggerheadImmature
(approx. 32" x 31")
No wounds; small crust of barnacles in soft tissue above rear flipper; copious "foam" from mouth when turned over.
May 191003-WLoggerheadImmature
(approx. 29" x 27")
No wounds; scute layer mostly missing on carapace; heavy barnacles on notch area.
May 19400-WLoggerheadImmature
(approx. 28" x 27")
No wounds; 5" growth under flipper opposite "shoulder joint," fairly heavy barnacle load on carapace.
May 28CGS-EGreenImmature
(approx. 12" x 11")
3 penetrating slice wounds in upper shell (carapace).
August 27811-ELoggerheadImmature
(approx. 25" x 24")
No wounds or other obvious cause of death.