Sea Turtles,  Wildlife

14 Years of Turtle Nests on Hilton Head Island

If you have been lucky enough to be on the beach at Hilton Head Island during the summer, you have probably seen the flagged sea turtle nests. If you have been very lucky, you have even seen a turtle heading back into the ocean after a hard night of egg-laying. And if you have been extremely lucky, you have had the opportunity to see baby turtles scurrying toward the water.

Sea Turtle Baby in front of Captains Walk 413 in 2019

Each year, turtles make their way to Hilton Head Island to lay their eggs. We have been tracking the counts using data from the wonderful folks at, and are very happy to say that it looks like the number of nests is increasing year over year.

Here is a graph of nests and hatchlings over the past 14 years (click the graph for a bigger image).

14 years of sea turtle nests on Hilton Head Island

The blue bars represent the number of nests discovered, and the count is over on the axis on the right side of the graph. As you can see, 2019 was a crazy year, with over 450 nests created.

The green line (with the actual count on the left side of the graph) is the estimated number of baby sea turtles (‘Emerged Hatchlings) that made it up out of the eggs, and it roughly corresponds to the number of nests. The gray line is a five-year moving average of the number of nests and, as you can see, it is trending slightly up.

The town and people of Hilton Head are doing a great deal of work to ensure that this upward trend continues. Sea turtles are an important part of the environment and, well, they are just cool!

Sea Turtle tracks as she heads back to the ocean after a long night of nest digging and egg-laying