After a long wait, the excitement of Kiawah’s Leatherback Sea Turtle nest has come to an end. For the past several weeks, the Nature Center was in quite a buzz with this being only the second Leatherback nest on Kiawah in recent memory. But after the anticipated hatch date came and went, SCDNR gave the Kiawah Turtle Patrol permission to evaluate the nest. This morning the Turtle Patrol began carefully digging into the nest site. Often during a typical sea turtle nest evaluation, hatchlings or viable eggs are uncovered; sadly, that was not the case here. Although it was clear that the eggs were fertilized and hatchling development has occurred, at some point development stopped. Our best guess is that the highly variable spring temperatures we experienced negatively impacted the hatchling development.
On a brighter note, Kiawah has 161 Loggerhead Sea turtle nests (and counting) and hatching should begin any day now!