Loggerhead nest numbers way down in SC this year

It's been a bad year for loggerhead sea turtle nests in South Carolina.

That's while Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet is having a decent year, with 12 sea turtle nests this summer compared to nine in 2013.

But statewide, the numbers are not good.

"As of (Friday) morning, we had 2,003 nests, compared to over 5,000 last year, so it's way down," said sea turtle volunteer Phil Schneider.

Schneider says the low numbers could be caused by a cold winter.

Also, sea turtles nest every two to three years and biologists think this is a down year in the cycle.

The overall trend over the past few years has been good.

"We're just seeing one down year and this is coming off last summer, which was phenomenal, it was an excellent year," said Huntington park ranger Mike Walker.

Though the loggerhead is still listed as a threatened species, Walker says its future looks much brighter today than it did 10 to 20 years ago.

He says that's largely thanks to the work of many dedicated volunteers.

"Pretty much every beach has some kind of volunteer effort, looking for eggs, documenting nests, doing predator protection," said Walker.

Schneider manages the Pawleys Island region for SCUTE.

The group is licensed to move turtle nests that are too close to the ocean and could be washed away.

He says over the past couple of decades, SCUTE volunteers have saved thousands of eggs.

"We're doing good things and I think that we can believe that we're making a difference."

Schneider thinks the loggerhead may never emerge from its threatened status, but at least volunteers can save some of them.

Marine biologists say only one out of every thousand sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.