Thursday, June 27, 2019

Sea Turtle Rescue

Did You Hear The Good News? | A once in a lifetime experience occurred on our section of beach at the G Section at the beginning of June. Two of our Jr. and Sr. Naturalist participants and their parents spotted a Sea Turtle nesting on the beach. They were very helpful with keeping people from disturbing the turtle until help could arrive. 

Meet our Sea Turtle Mom

Our Master Naturalist and a few Security Teammates rushed to the scene and were able to assist in securing the mother Sea Turtle and her babies. There were approximately 145 eggs in her nest!

Our Master Naturalist, Brandy, moving the eggs to safety.

145 Sea Turtle Eggs later

A crew from the Myrtle Beach State Park assisted us and will keep us updated on the status of the nest and the baby turtles throughout the Summer.

A team effort rescue mission 

Inspecting the nest

Sea Turtle 411 | Loggerheads are the most common species found in South Carolina and were named the official South Carolina state reptile in 1988!

Let’s dig in and take a closer look at what happens when it is time for a mother Loggerhead to begin nesting.

Nesting | Females will crawl onto the beach at night, 30 days after breeding, from May to August and deposit an average of 120 white, leathery eggs, which are about the size of a ping pong ball. They deposit these eggs in a nest that is around 18 inches deep.

Sea Turtle Egg Nest

The cavity is dug with their hind flippers in the dry sand above the high tide line. Each female will nest about four times per season with two-week intervals between each nesting event. The eggs incubate for approximately 60 days. During this time, they are susceptible to predation by Raccoons, Feral Hogs, Coyotes, and Ghost Crabs. Hatchlings will emerge from the nest at night and crawl towards the ocean using light reflecting off of the ocean to find their way.

TIP | When you see Sea Turtles on the beach, it is important to never shine flashlights in their direction. This will cause them to false crawl and return to the ocean without laying their eggs. Red light is the only light that Sea Turtles cannot see and will not disturb them.

Just Keep Swimming | Once they reach the ocean, they swim continuously for about 36 hours to escape predators that may prey on them in coastal waters. They swim offshore for large clumps of Seaweed, so they are camouflaged. During the next 10 – 12 years, they float actively and passively in the North Atlantic Ocean. Once they reach approximately 20 inches in shell length, they move back into coastal waters and feed on Crabs and Mollusks.

Sea Turtle Conservation | All guests should report any Sea Turtle sightings to our Security Team; they are trained and will know how to proceed.

Want to know how you can help with Sea Turtle conservations? Here are a few tips:

-       Never disturb a Sea Turtle crawling to or from the ocean.
-       Once a Sea Turtle has begun nesting, observe her only from a distance.
-       Do not shine lights on a Sea Turtle or take flash photography.
-       Fill in holes on the beach at the end of each day; adults and hatchlings could become trapped.
-       Do not leave beach chairs or tents on the beach overnight.
-       Never attempt to ride a Sea Turtle.

Until Next Time | We have examples of the size of the adult and hatchling Loggerheads in the Nature Center, as well as a skull replica. Be sure to stop by and check them out!

Keep an eye out for Sea Turtles, join our Jr. and Sr. Naturalist Program, and as always, we hope you are creating wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Just Keep Swimming

We like to keep our guests in-the-know on what is happening not just in Ocean Lakes, but outside of our campground, as well. Sometimes, media headlines can cause unnecessary worry and fear, especially when it comes to the biggest attraction in Myrtle Beach: The Ocean. 

One of those topics can include jellyfish on South Carolina beaches; therefore, this week, we are tackling the topic of jellyfish and one of it's relatives!

Let’s Dive Right In | There are 6 types of jellyfish that are common to our beach, which include Cannonball Jelly, Lion’s Mane Jelly, Mushroom Jelly, Southern Moon Jelly, Atlantic Sea Nettle Jelly, and the Sea Wasp Jelly. The Portuguese Man-of-War is not common to our area and is only considered a relative to the jellyfish.

Important Fact | According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, “Though easily recognized, these animals are often misunderstood and feared by beach goers, even though most jellyfish in South Carolina waters are harmless.”

Cannonball Jelly | Known as Cabbagehead, these jellies are reported to be the most common in our area and one of the least venomous. The semicircular bell reaches 8 to 10 inches in size and is bordered with brown pigment. It has short, protruding oral arms with secondary mouth folds at the base of the bell covered with mucus for trapping small prey.  Cannonballs are ecologically important because they are the main prey base for the endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle and warrant conservation.

Cannonball Jelly on the Beach

Lion’s Mane Jelly | This jelly is considered a winter jelly since it visits our area during colder months. Their bell is shaped like a saucer and grows between 6 to 8 inches, and they have red-brown arms with 8 clusters of tentacles. Their sting is similar to the Southern Moon Jelly; however, it may be a bit more intense and feel more like a burn than a sting.

Photo Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Mushroom Jelly |
Cannonball and Mushroom Jellies are very similar, but this jelly grows 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The Mushroom is much softer, flatter, and does not have tentacles. Fortunately, these jellies do not represent a hazard to humans.

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian State University

Southern Moon Jelly |
While this jelly is one of the most well-known jellyfish, it occurs infrequently in our waters and is slightly venomous. Their bell is saucer-shaped, transparent, and easily identified by their pink horseshoe, which is visible through the bell. They typically grow 6 to 8 inches but can exceed 20 inches.

Photo Courtesy of the National Aquarium

Atlantic Sea Nettle Jelly |
During the Summertime, this jelly is the most common to be found in South Carolina waters, and has a sting very similar to the Lion’s Mane. They cause most of the jellyfish stings that occur in our area and grow 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Sea Nettles are saucer-shaped and brown or red in color.

Photo Courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific

Sea Wasp Jelly | Known as the Box Jelly, Sea Wasp have a cube-shaped bell and grow 4 to 6 inches in height. They are strong, graceful swimmers and possess several long tentacles that hang from the corners of their cube. Their sting can cause severe skin irritation since they are the most venomous jellyfish residing in our waters.

Photo Courtesy of Oceana

Portuguese Man-of-War | Did you know that while the Portuguese Man-of-War is closely related to jellyfish, they are not actually a jellyfish? It is true. 

These creatures inhabit the subtropics and Gulf Stream, and only are found in South Carolina waters when they drift off due to wind and ocean currents. Their visits are very infrequent; however, swimmers should learn how to identify these. They grow up to 10 inches long and have a gas-filled float, then underneath their float are their tentacles that can extend between 30 to 60 feet. Their stings are extremely painful and will feel like you are being shocked.

Photo Courtesy of SCDNR

Recently, SCDNR was quoted in Newsweek 
(Newsweek Articlestating, “You should steer clear of these highly venomous relatives of jellyfish in the water and ashore, as even a dead Man-of-War has a sting strong enough to sometimes require medical attention. Fortunately, the bright blue “float” of a Man-of-War makes them easy to recognize and avoid.”

Treating Stings | On Page 45 in the Ocean Lakes magazine, we provide a brief health and safety tip on jellyfish stings. We recommend rinsing the sting with vinegar, and if vinegar is not available, then create a paste of baking soda and water. These two solutions will deactivate the toxin in the sting. Guests can always contact our Security Team if the need for first aid is severe. 

Page 45 in the Ocean Lakes Magazine

Reminder |
We want to make it clear that there have not been any sightings of the Portuguese Man-of-War on our stretch of sand so far this season. We always want to educate our guests and keep them aware of what is out there.

Until Next Time | Stay safe, Ocean Lakes, and be mindful of the jellies and even their relatives. As Dory repeatedly said, “Just keep swimming!”