Effects of the 2005 Folly Beach, South Carolina Beach renourishment project on Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting and hatching success
Gossett, Jennifer Elizabeth
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Folly Beach is a barrier island on the coast of South Carolina that serves as a nesting ground for Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Caretta caretta. Due to high erosion rates, this beach was renourished during the 2005 sea turtle nesting season. It is believed that the renourishment project subjected the female nesting turtles to human activity, noise, and light pollution. There was also the possibility that physical changes in the texture and quality of the sand would impede the turtles from successfully digging nests and hampering egg development. This study focused on identifying differences in the physical properties of the natural and renourishment sand, to test whether or not the renourishment project had any adverse affect on nest site selection, hatching success, occurrence of false crawls, and to observe the change, if any, in turtle population nesting on Folly Beach during the 2005 season. A significant difference was found between the moisture content, mean grain size, and grain size distribution of the natural and renourishment sand. However, no significant differences were observed between the hatching successes of nests relocated on the two different types of sediment surfaces based upon these differences. On Folly Beach, there was no change in nesting crawl to total crawl ratio during the renourishment project as compared to historical data, nor was there a significant difference in nest site selection. Since no consistent proportion of the nests received by Folly Beach and the surrounding barrier islands each year could be identified, it was not possible to determine if the apparent differences in nest numbers for 2005 was statistically significant. Dredge activity did not result in a decreased number of nests. The results indicate that the renourishment project had little or no effect on sea turtle nesting.