Sea Turtles

2021 Turtles are Hatching

Right on schedule, the 2021 baby turtles are making their way from Hilton Head beaches back into the surf. An estimated total of 79 new Loggerheads have hatched and made it to the ocean. That number will increase significantly over the next few months, probably ending up close to 20,000.

Unfortunately, it appears that 2021 will be a slightly below average year for nests on HHI. Over the past ten years, an average of 309 Loggerhead turtles have made nests on our beaches each summer, producing an average of 21,000 Loggerhead babies.

As of July 21 we have seen 244 new nests, and while already above the 2018 total of 179 it will probably not catch up with the 291 nests discovered last year. Here is a graph that shows total number of nests and hatchlings each year since 2008. The data for 2021 is only current through July 21:

Total Sea Turtle Nests on Hilton Head Island by Year

Although we don’t have data for August, and July isn’t finished yet, most of the nests are typically created in June (except for 2019, when an unusually large number of nests were found in July). Take a look at this graph, which shows the number of new nests found each month going back five years:

New Nests each month

We will be sure and update this story as we get toward the end of the season.