Yeddi bout de Coota Dem @GullahGeechee
Giant loggerhead sea turtles, protected as a federally threatened species, nest during the spring and summer months on beaches from North Carolina to Florida. There are hundreds of turtle watch groups throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation especially within beach communities. They organize nighttime sea turtle walks in June and July.
Tune een fa yeddi frum Queen Quet, Chieftess of de Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com), Founder of de Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition and Founding Member and Secretary of de Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association (www.GullahGeecheeFishing.net) crak e teet bout wha fa do bout de coota dem pun Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV) (www.GullahGeechee.tv):
Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and ends Oct. 31, with eggs typically hatching around July 1. Nearly 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. occurs in Florida from March through October of each year. Many of the 100 miles of beaches protected by Florida State Parks provide nesting habitat for sea turtles.
Female loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles are behemoths which weigh hundreds of pounds. They crawl ashore at night, dig holes and deposit 100 or so golf-ball-sized eggs. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles race toward the brightest light, an instinct that served them well when it drew them toward moonlight shining on the ocean. Now, the destructionment on shorelines brought by condominiums, hotels and restaurants generate lights that draw hatchlings inland, where they get run over, dry out, or end up easy prey for birds and raccoons. People find dead sea turtle hatchlings in storm drains, parking lots and in the roadways, and dehydrated on the beaches. Numerous volunteers stay out on beaches in Florida at night to help prevent these things from happening due to the massive amount of artificial light that ends up on the shorelines there. Yet, the Florida state wildlife commission told three sea turtle rescue groups that their nighttime vigils are unnecessary and harmful, saying in a letter “the increased human presence on the beach at night during nesting and hatching season in effect endangers the health and safety of marine life.” The fact that the overbuilding on the coast of Florida has displaced much of the indigenous culture there, there is no surprise that there is a lack of concern for the lives of the sea creatures continuing to exist there too.
Fortunately, folks on the coast of the Gullah/Geechee Nation are more concerned about all forms of life. South Carolina reported 5,560 nests in 2020, according to the news outlets. Ultimately, the year prior broke all records with 8,795 nests. On May 5, 2021, the first nest was seen on Seabrook Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. North Carolina’s first turtle nest of 2021 season was laid in Holden Beach on May 8 making it the earliest a nest that has ever been laid on Holden Beach.
Each clutch averages 120 eggs, which typically hatch after about 60 days. Unfortunately, thousands of sea turtles that nest each spring and summer share their coastal habitat with busy seaports in all four states. The United States Army Corps of Engineers relies on dredging to remove accumulated sediments and debris that can make shipping channels shallower and less safe to navigate. The Georgia conservation group One Hundred Miles filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Army Corps of Engineers, which plans to end a policy that for 30 years suspended coastal dredging from the Carolinas to Florida during the warmer months when sea turtles are most abundant in coastal waters and lay their eggs on Southern beaches.
Those seasonal windows have been credited with minimizing deaths and injuries to sea turtles by dredges that suck up sediments to clear waterways used by commercial ships. The Army Corps relies on dredging to remove accumulated sediments and debris that can make shipping channels shallower and less safe to navigate. However, the Army Corps plans to scrap them after federal scientists last year concluded that sea turtles protected by the Endangered Species Act can likely endure 150 deaths annually from year-round dredging.
Citing concerns by biologists with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the federal lawsuit says opening the state’s 100-mile (160-kilometer) coast to year-round dredging for the first time since 1991 “would almost certainly kill and injure federally threatened and endangered sea turtles.” Sustained efforts to reduce sea turtle deaths in the water and to catalog and protect their nests on land have been credited with pushing nesting to record levels in the region in 2019. With your help, let’s assist the turtles in breaking that record in 2021. Disya wha hunnuh kin do:
You should also obtain the book, “The Sandman’s Daughter” for your family to learn more about how to protect the turtles and appreciate the coastal habitat of the Gullah/Geechee Nation from www.GullahGeechee.biz. Share it with the family before you take your next beach journey. Hep protect de coota and de oda ting een we ocean and de sea.
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