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Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling moving towards the waves

5 Things to Know About Sea Turtle Nests in South Carolina

Along the Waccamaw Neck: Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beaches, Pawleys Island, and Georgetown, South Carolina. One of the many delights the beautiful beaches of the South Carolina offer are the sea turtles! Sea turtle nests in South Carolina are a special part of our local communities. If you ever get the chance to encounter these amazing creatures along our shores whether you see adult or hatchlings, here are some important things to remember.


orange protective sign indicating loggerhead sea turtle nest in South Carolina

1. When is South Carolina’s Nesting Season?

As vacationers flock to the sun-kissed shores of South Carolina, another group of travelers makes its annual journey to our coastal haven: sea turtles. With the arrival of warmer weather, these creatures embark on their nesting pilgrimage. Sea turtle nesting season in South Carolina spans from May to October. While nesting activity begins in May, it reaches its pinnacle between June and August, offering enthusiasts the best chance to witness this remarkable spectacle.


hatchling loggerhead seat urtle in the shallow waves of the ocean

2. What species of sea turtles nest in South Carolina?

There are seven species of sea turtles you may see in the waters of South Carolina. Adult or juvenile sea turtle species you can see include Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, and Flatback sea turtles. By far, the most common sea turtle nest found in South Carolina are Loggerheads! Green sea turtle nests can also be found along the beaches of South Carolina.


Pawleys Island beach at dusk

3. Lights Out: Why minimizing artificial lights along the shore is important.

To protect the success of sea turtle nests in South Carolina, dimming beach lights during nesting season is crucial for guiding the hatchlings safely to the ocean. These turtles rely on natural light cues to navigate their journey, but artificial lights can disrupt their behavior and lead them astray, endangering their survival. By minimizing the artificial light we shine on the beach, we help promote the successful migration of sea turtle hatchlings from nest to sea. Bright lights along the beach will also prevent female sea turtles from laying their eggs, sending them to search for alternative areas.


Four hatchling loggerhead sea turtles on the beach of South Carolina

4. How many sea turtle hatchlings are in a nest?

Loggerhead sea turtle nests in South Carolina are the most prevalent species in the region. When these magnificent creatures come ashore to lay eggs, they craft nests around 18 inches deep, typically nestled in the soft sands near the dunes and above the high tide line for protection. Each nest contains approximately 120 eggs, and after incubating for about 60 days, the hatchlings emerge at night, commencing their remarkable journey into the ocean. Loggerhead sea turtles live around 70 – 80 years! Read more about the lifecycle of the loggerhead sea turtle!


Protected sea turtle nest in South Carolina

5. S.C.U.T.E: South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts

Discover the coastal chapters of S.C.U.T.E. (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts), a remarkable organization comprising dedicated volunteers committed to safeguarding the nesting sea turtles of South Carolina. Their mission involves preserving turtle habitats, shielding eggs from predators, and vigilant nest monitoring. Their efforts yield invaluable resources, including hatchling counts and public education initiatives aimed at raising awareness about these fascinating creatures. Peace Vacations proudly serves as the corporate sponsor of DeBordieu-Prince George-Hobcaw S.C.U.T.E.

Stay up to date with Pawleys Island’s chapter of S.C.U.T.E, and attend a public inventory to learn more about these nests!


Beachcomber’s Guide to the Waccamaw Neck

Shell hunting along the shores of Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, and DeBordieu Beach is a cherished activity enjoyed by many. Collecting these timeless treasures not only creates lasting memories but also connects us to the beauty of our coastal surroundings. Having grown up frequenting these beaches, my family and I have spent countless hours strolling along the coastline, gathering shells. The thrill of discovering native sea shells is unmatched, with surprises awaiting at every turn. Beachcombing, or shell hunting, is a beloved pastime here, and I’m excited to share insights into the 7 Common South Carolina Sea Shells you can find during your visit! Stay with Peace Vacations!


Three lettered olive sea shells sitting on a wooden table.

1. Lettered Olive (Olive ssayana)

The Lettered Olive holds special significance as the State Shell of South Carolina. This beautiful shell is frequently discovered along the South Carolina coast, particularly in the shallow water during low tide. As you explore the shores of Pawleys Island and beyond, keep an eye out for these distinctive, shiny round shells gracefully rolling in with the waves. This is one of the most popular South Carolina Sea Shells!


Three Shark Eye sea shells sitting on a wooden table.

2. Shark Eye (Neverita duplicata)

Shark Eyes, the home of mollusks in the shallow coastal waters, are frequently discovered along South Carolina’s coastline. As you comb our beaches for shells, keep an eye out for these distinctive shiny, round shapes—you’re likely to spot one! Interestingly, Shark Eyes shells can also serve as homes for hermit crabs, adding to the fun of your seaside discoveries


Four lighting whelk sea shells of various sizes sitting on a wooden table.

3. Lighting Whelk (Sinistrofulgur perversum)

Lightning Whelks and other large whelk species are among the most thrilling shells to discover on South Carolina’s beaches. Although fairly common, they can be rare to find on busy shores due to their popularity. Keep a keen lookout, as spotting one first often means claiming it! For better chances of finding a Lightning Whelk, consider visiting quieter, less frequented beaches where foot traffic is minimal.


One Auger sea shell sitting on a wooden table.

4. Auger (Terebridae)

Augers were my favorite sea shell as I searched for them along the South Carolina Coast. I fondly referred to them as ‘Ice Cream Cone Shells’ due to their delightful spiral shape. You can frequently spot these shells at low tide in the shallow waters along the coast. Augers serve as homes for mollusks, and they are also popular residences for hermit crabs. When collecting these shells, be sure to inspect them for any resident creatures!


Five pink, white, and crimson calico scallop sea shells on a wooden table.

5. Calico Scallop (Argopecten gibbus)

Calico Scallops are a delightful discovery due to their vibrant colors and striking patterns, featuring beautiful shades of pink, brown, and grey. These shells make a fun and attractive addition to any collection. In my experience, the Waccamaw Neck area is a prime spot for finding Calico Scallops, so be sure to keep an eye out during your beachcombing adventures along the South Carolina Coast!


Two slipper sea shells on a wooden table.

6. Slipper Shell (Crepidula fornicata)

The Slipper Shell, commonly referred to as ‘Slippers’ for their resemblance to bedtime shoes, is a frequent discovery along the shorelines. Often found in clusters with Cockles, Clams, and other broken shells, Slipper Shells blend in seamlessly. Keep a lookout for these charming sea shells during your sea shell excursions!


Seven variations of Cockle sea shells sitting on a wooden table.

7. Cockle Shell (Cerastoderma edule)

The Cockle Shell is a ubiquitous find along our shores, with over 250 species of these bivalves falling under the common name ‘Cockle’. While they may seem ordinary, pay close attention to the various shapes and sizes—they often reveal surprising treasures during your South Carolina sea shell hunting adventures!

So, do not forget your beach buckets next time you stay with Peace Vacations, and don’t forget to have fun and hunt responsibly.