Although it’s not uncommon to encounter turtle nests on the island, baby turtle hatchings are a rare sight. The southern end of Jekyll Island provides a remote and protected stretch of beach where sea turtles lay eggs every year. A walk from St. Andrews Picnic Area toward the sunken shrimp boat provides a glimpse of many sights of nature. Here you can see nests that have been marked and roped off by Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) patrols.
Sea Turtles lay their eggs between May and July. These eggs hatch between late July and early October. This past August we talked with members of a GSTC patrol as they visited such a nest. They visit each nest daily, keeping records of the initial nesting time and hatching times. Hatchings often take place at night. Sometimes GSTC staff will find a new hatchling that has not made it to the sea. They take these turtles back to the center until they have grown a bit and can be released back into the wild.
Turtle Center Viewing Programs
GSTC sponsors two types of outings that let visitors get a closer view of turtle nests. Turtle walks, limited to groups of 25, cost $26.75 person. They leave twice a night and last about an hour for a guided walk along the beach. These walks occur at night during June and July. Groups may see a turtle nesting, but they can only observe the event.
For a more up close and personal experience, sign up for a Ride with Night Patrol or Egg-sperience Dawn Patrol. These groups have a four-person limit and a longer tour duration. Participants can help with data collection if the group sees a nesting turtle. Dawn Patrol focuses on daily monitoring of nests, nest excavations after turtles have hatched, and occasionally relocation of at-risk nests. Ride with Patrol costs for 2018 are not yet available, but you can expect them to be in the neighborhood of $100 / person.
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