The world’s rarest species of sea turtle nested on Hilton Head for the first time ever this April!
A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle became the first observed turtle to lay eggs this year on Hilton Head when she came ashore on April 26, 2019. This nest was very special – not only was this the first 2019 nest, but it was also a very special species. According to marine biologist Amber Kuehn there have only been four recorded nestings of a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle in South Carolina.
The sighting was even more unusual because she came ashore in the morning around 10:30 when there were many delighted beachgoers to witness her arrival. Most turtles choose to lay eggs under the cover of darkness.
There are seven species of sea turtles, but The Kemp’s Ridley turtle is most endangered of them all. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 females worldwide capable of laying eggs.
The turtle most commonly seen in Hilton Head waters is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which can weigh as much as 350 pounds. The Kemp Ridley is smaller, usually under 100 pounds.
This particular turtle did not have any identification tag, so it is likely she has not been seen before. Turtles typically make their way back to the same beach they were born on, so it is possible there was a previous nesting that went undetected.