Sea Turtle Summer 2014~!

The 2014 sea turtle season on Jekyll Island has been far from a bust. While this season has seen fewer turtle nests than recent years, our activity on the beach has been steady. While the state of Georgia has experienced reduced numbers of nesting turtles, there is no cause for concern. Female sea turtles do not nest every single year, taking several years off between nesting season to rebuild the physical resources needed to lay over 500 eggs in a single reproductive season. These pulses in nesting activity result in a natural fluctuation in overall nesting numbers among years. The Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Project is operated by the Jekyll Island Authority’s Research Department at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Our researchers represent a diversity of backgrounds and affiliations. Most of our patrol team is supported through the AmeriCorps program but we also have researchers that are interning from College of Coastal Georgia, Juniata College, and Ball State. During May-July, we work at night, tagging sea turtles as part of our population study and collecting information on sea turtle health and size. We also gather data that can be used for habitat management such as how hatch success is influenced by nest temperatures, rises in the water table, and the vegetation around the nest.

In addition to learning about our sea turtles and beach habitats, we also educate the general public about the importance of using red lights on the beach or walking by moonlight during full moons. Sea turtles are disoriented by white light and Jekyll Island has its own lighting ordinance to restrict the use of white lights on our beaches. Not only can you see more stars when you moderate your use of light on the beach, you also greatly increase your chance of seeing a sea turtle mother or baby. Please support sea turtle conservation on Jekyll Island by using red lights and closing the drapes in your hotel room. Also, baby sea turtles are small and can get trapped in our holes and sand castles on the beach. Please exercise the kid in you and knock that castle down when you are done!

As nesting season comes to a halt in August, nests begin to hatch after incubating for 60 days. With this new season come new opportunities at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. We are offering two morning programs that are available for reservation on the GSTC website.

Sunrise Walks: Early morning risers will explore one of Jekyll’s beautiful beaches and discover barrier island ecology. Your trained guides will explain the importance of this habitat, identify a variety of beach-dwelling flora and fauna, and explain how this environment supports sea turtle nesting. Depending on the hatching season, some walk guests may witness a nest excavation on a hatched loggerhead sea turtle nest! Group size is limited to 25 people per walk. Sunrise Walks are conducted on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Egg-sperience Dawn Patrol: Participants in the GSTC’s Egg-sperience Dawn Patrol program get the unique opportunity to assist sea turtle biologists with nest monitoring efforts on Jekyll Island. Guests meet our Dawn Patrol team at Great Dunes Park at sunrise where they will accompany patrollers in one of the GSTC’s all-terrain vehicles. On the beach participants provide assistance and gain hands-on experience while covering and locating nests, checking for signs of depredation, and conducting nest excavations. The opportunity to work alongside a seasoned sea turtle biologist and your efforts to protect the sea turtle population of Jekyll Island make this a worthwhile experience you will never forget! Group size is limited to 4 people. Dawn Patrols occur every day of the week.



The Story Of Cap’n Crunch & Archie

Capt Crunch (2)

Cap’n Crunch is a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle that stranded on Bay View Beach in Dennis, Massachusetts on December 3, 2013. He/she was originally taken to the New England Aquarium because of cold stunning. The New England Aquarium slowly brought Cap’n Crunch back up to a normal temperature and got him/her healthy again. He/she was transferred to the GSTC with two other loggerheads on February 2, 2014 via plane for temporary holding and release. We were preparing Cap’n Crunch for release when we noticed he/she had an abscess on his/her shell which needed further treatment. Sometimes when animals are cold stunned they can develop secondary infections as a result of being too cold. That was the case for Cap’n Crunch, he/she had a bone infection (or osteomyelitis). We have treated this infection, and Cap’n Crunch is now ready to go! Join Us Friday at 2pm for the release! Great Dunes Beach.


Archie (2)

Archie is a juvenile green sea turtle who was found floating near the Kilkenny Marina in Richmond Hill, Georgia on May 10, 2014. Upon arrival we took x-rays and discovered that Archie had a lot of gas in his/her GI tract. Fortunately there was no blockage and Archie, with the help of some GI stimulating drugs, was able to pass the gas and is now able to dive normally. It is always exciting to be able to help a patient and get them back out into the wild quickly, and we were able to do that with Archie! ​




Georgia Sea Turtle Center Offers Sea Turtle Research Opportunities to Public

Sea turtle season in Glynn County officially arrived when a nesting mother crawled up on Jekyll Island on Sunday night. This Jekyll nest was the second in the state, behind Cumberland Island which experienced the state’s first nest on May 9. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is offering the public a unique summer opportunity to help guests gain a first-hand understanding of the mysterious world of Jekyll Island’s endangered sea turtles. A program now in its third year, Ride with Night Patrol will allow guests to experience the beach from an entirely fresh perspective. Participants will meet biologists at 8:45 pm at the Great Dunes Pavilion. From there, they accompany them to the beach on all-terrain vehicles. They then provide field assistance in order to gain hands-on experience in spotting sea turtle crawls, taking measurements of sea turtles and their habitat, and marking the egg chamber appropriately. Throughout the night patrol, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s staff is available to answer any questions guests may have. “This is a wholly unique experience most people would never have the opportunity to do,” said Sea Turtle Center Research Coordinator Dr. Kimberly Andrews. “The experience of working alongside a seasoned sea turtle biologist and contributing to efforts to protect the sea turtle population on Jekyll Island makes this a worthwhile experience. This is certainly something a visitor will never forget.” When asked about the Ride with Night Patrol experience, one 2013 participant described it as “the best night of my life.” Furthermore, another participant from last summer said that her family’s time on the beach with the GSTC patrol team “sparked a deeper interest in our children for not only sea turtles but all animals and how we can better care for wildlife.” Night patrols with Sea Turtle Center staff will be offered nightly in June and July 2014, and reservations may be available for May if nesting season picks up quickly. A minimum of 24 hours advance notice is required and staff can only accommodate a maximum of four guests per patrol. Each night patrol session can last for up to 11 hours (participants have the option of staying on the beach all night or returning at any point) and costs $100 per person, with a 10% discount available for GSTC members and Sea Turtle Camp Kids. All programs are subject to weather and physical requirements. For additional information regarding Ride with Night Patrol, visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center web site,, or call 912-635-4137. To make a reservation, call 1-800-313-7980 or visit As a way to further engage Ride with Night Patrol participants and the general public, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center also offers the chance to sponsor a sea turtle nest on Jekyll Island and stay up to date on the developing hatchlings in their nest. With a $40 donation, Nest Tracker sponsors receive a personalized certificate, information about their nest, an update on their nest when it’s close to hatching, a summary of the nest’s success after it hatches, and much more! Anybody can become a Nest Tracker by visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Gift Shop or the Jekyll Island Online Store at Through sea turtle rehabilitation, research and educational programs, Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff work to increase awareness of habitat and wildlife conservation challenges, promote responsibility for ecosystem health and empower individuals to act locally, regionally, and globally to protect the environment. For information, visit



New Race Organizers

The Turtle Crawl is being organized for the first time by Peak Racing Team (, based in Atlanta.  The competitions will be professionally timed by race event specialist Alta Vista Sports, of Deland, Fla. “We’re grateful for the expertise that Peak Racing Team and Alta Vista Sports bring to the Turtle Crawl Triathlon,” said Susan Crowley, special events manager for the Jekyll Island Authority.  “Peak Racing Team organizes and directs both adult and youth endurance races and it coaches endurance athletes of all ages and abilities, from the 5K to Iron-distance triathlons.”  Peak Racing Team works with athletes in the triathlon, swimming, cycling, and running disciplines.


NestFest and Turtle Crawl Triathlon Help Georgia Sea Turtle Center Show Off Nature’s Annual Phenomenon on Jekyll Island

Mid-May through August is nesting season for the sea turtle, and people from all over the country come to coastal Georgia just for a glimpse of the amazing journey these magnificent creatures take to lay their eggs. Sea turtles have navigated the oceans and crawled onto nesting beaches since the dinosaur age.  However, various natural and human-induced threats have landed sea turtles on the lists of threatened or endangered species.  Spending nearly their entire lives at sea, the turtles must overcome enormous odds to survive into adulthood. The internationally acclaimed Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) is located on Jekyll Island, a state-owned barrier island along Georgia’s coast, midway between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla.  Largely preserved in its natural state, Jekyll Island boasts 10 miles of shell-strewn beaches, which are a favorite location for many of these rare species of sea turtles to nest and hatch. The GSTC is dedicated to monitoring the turtles during nesting season and protecting them and their nests during this crucial time.  Research shows that, to lay their eggs, sea turtles come back to the same general area where they were born (within about 5 to 35 miles).  They can travel several thousand miles between the time of their birth and the time they return “home” to nest. Plentiful beaches and minimal artificial light make Jekyll Island an ideal location for sea turtle nesting.  The GSTC and island residents and guests take special pride in protecting these great marine animals.  From monitoring Jekyll Island’s beaches and marking nests to conducting educational programs such as interpretive beach walks, GSTC staff and volunteers tell the tale of struggle and survival that these species face.




Alligator Education

When roaming Jekyll Island’s natural environment, guests are often curious about the American alligator native to the island. These amazing creatures are a great indicator of the island’s overall ecological health, as they are sensitive to environmental factors. A healthy population of alligators translates to a healthy island ecosystem. Additionally, alligators are a top predator on Jekyll Island, and they help maintain healthy populations of other animals.  Most commonly, alligators will be found near lakes, especially around golf courses, but are not considered extreme threats to people.  By following a simple set of guidelines, these impressive creatures can add a bit of extra wonder, but no harm, to your overall Jekyll Island experience. Just remember: Be kind. Stay back. Follow the rules. While exploring and enjoying Jekyll Island, follow these rules to maintain a safe but educational experience around alligators:

• Do not feed or attempt to feed the alligators: Alligators are protected by state and federal law and feeding them is illegal. When alligators are fed they lose their natural fear of humans.

• Be aware of your surroundings: Always be aware of alligators when you are anywhere near fresh or brackish water. Never intentionally approach or try to capture an alligator, no matter what size.

• Do not allow children to play in water inhabited by alligators: Always keep children a safe distance from the water’s edge, and never allow them to throw objects into the water. To an alligator, a splash potentially means a food source is in the water.

• Do not allow pets in or near water known to harbor alligators: Dogs and other small pets are more likely to be attacked than humans because they resemble natural prey. Please keep all dogs leashed and do not allow them to swim, drink, or play at the water’s edge.

• Play it safe when golfing: Never search for a lost golf ball in the water or on the bank. Of course, never try to hit a ball that has come to rest near an alligator.

Though Jekyll Island is home to a sizeable population of alligators, the animals rarely cause problems for island residents and guests. On occasion, an alligator will be seen in the road, or may enter a private backyard. Want to learn more? As part of the island alligator research efforts supported by the Jekyll Island Authority, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and NOAA, researchers at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center will offer an  Alligator Education Program from April 2nd to October 1st. Guests will learn about the habitats and lifestyles of the native American alligator.  This 45-minute program is offered at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays now through October 1st, meeting at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Reservations may be made online at A small fee of $2 is required, space is limited.

For more information about Jekyll Island and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, visit


Georgia Sea Turtle Unveils Two New Exhibits on Monday April 28th

You are invited! Join us for a very special event unveiling two awesome new exhibits at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Ceremony to take place Monday, April 28th at 3:30 pm at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center Museum and Garden. For more information please contact The Jekyll Island Foundation. Their email address is:




Next “Wild Side” Lecture Is On May 8th.

The Jekyll Island Authority is proud to announce the upcoming event in a series of lectures presented by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center designed to engage the public on wildlife and conservation issues. A highly visual and engaging series of talks includes evening presentations, three of which will spotlight the Center’s professional staff as they share their insights into prevailing wildlife themes of the day. On May 8, a twist in the series will be a talk on the archaeological discovery of a Spanish mission that occurred on St. Catherines Island in the 1500s presented by archaeologist David Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History. Dave will present a captivating tale about the nostalgia and romance that has long surrounded the Franciscan and Jesuit missions in America. Mainstream American history has constructed and perpetuated an idealized, romanticized version of the Spanish mission where reconstructed archaeological sites sometimes resemble Hollywood stage sets, yet he will draw upon the  archaeological evidence giving a more historically-appropriate perspective on America’s mission heritage.



Apex will be released this weekend!

Apex is a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle that stranded on Little Cumberland Island on July 26, 2013. When Apex stranded, it was obvious why. He/she had been attacked by a large shark. Sharks are an apex predator of the oceans (hence the turtles name) and are one of very few natural predators of sea turtles. Turtles defend themselves by trying to swim away, biting back, or using their shell to deflect bites. When Apex stranded he/she was missing most of his/her left front flipper, and had bite wounds to the right front flipper, the carapace (top shell) and the bridge (the part of the shell that connects the top and bottom shells). After a variety of treatments from honey to bone cement, Apex is finally ready for release. Sea turtles are tough animals, and can survive just fine missing part of a flipper (they can even survive with only 3 or 2 flippers!) so we aren’t worried about Apex having any problems in the wild. Apex will be released as part of the Tybee Sea Turtle Project’s annual 5k Turtle Trot! Release will be after the race and award ceremony. Approximately 9:45 am.




Jekyll Island Authority Announces Lecture Series Presented by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Public invited to discover “On the Wild Side” in an engaging series of evening presentations.

terry and michelle with turtle (2)JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga., Feb. 12, 2014 – The Jekyll Island Authority is proud to announce an exciting new program presented by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center designed to engage the public on wildlife and conservation issues. A highly visual and engaging series of talks includes four evening presentations, three of which will spotlight the Center’s professional staff as they share their insights into prevailing wildlife themes of the day.

The kick-off event will be Thursday, March 13, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm, and include a 30-minute reception featuring exhibits and displays followed by a 1 hour presentation entitled Wild Adventures from a Wildlife and Zoo Veterinarian by Dr. Terry Norton. Dr. Norton is the Veterinarian, Director and Founder of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a department of the Jekyll Island Authority. The audience will be lead on a journey through the fascinating career of a zoo and wildlife veterinarian.  Dr. Norton has worked with a wide array of wildlife ranging from small frogs to elephants and giraffe, providing medical and surgical care in a number of different facilities and environments. Brief talks will be given by individuals influenced by Dr. Norton, including stories told by Center staff specialists Michelle Kaylor, Katie Higgins, Jeannie Miller and Dr. Kimberly Andrews.

Sheryl Staaden, a professional zoo keeper from the Jacksonville Zoo will have a table display with information on using behavioral training in zoo animals. The display will highlight information on their recent success of performing artificial insemination on jaguars at the zoo. Gerald Douberly, a farrier from Savannah, Georgia will have information on his trade and his horseshoe artwork. Gerald was the consulting farrier for St. Catherines Island where he trimmed the zebra hooves for many years. Staff from St. Catherines Island will have a table displaying lemur behavior, medical care, and conservation and common immobilizing equipment such as dart guns and darts that have been used on some of the captive animals that have been housed on St. Catherines over the years. Other Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff will have a table on wound care in turtles and wildlife telemetry.

Future events in the lecture series will continue the theme of interesting and interactive presentations. On April 3 Dr. Kimberly Andrews will present Forty Years of Nesting Turtles on Jekyll Island. On May 8 David Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History will give a talk on the archaeological discovery of a Spanish mission from the 1500s on St. Catherines Island. This inaugural lecture series will close on August 26 with several Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff presenting Conservation in Motion: The Story of the Diamondback Terrapin.  Led by Michelle Kaylor, Dr. Norton and Dr. Andrews, the talk will focus on the protection of the diamondback terrapin through roadside management planning which reduces terrapin mortality on Georgia’s causeways and elsewhere.

The public is invited and encouraged to join these conservation professionals and hear their fascinating stories working on wildlife and missions influencing Georgia’s natural resources. All ticket proceeds benefit the on-going work at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Individual lectures ticket prices will be $10, $5 for students. There will be a cash bar at the events and all presentations will be at the Jekyll Island Convention Center from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

The 2014 “Wild Side” Lecture Series presented by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center:

Event times and dates are subject to change. For more information call the Jekyll Island Authority, Georgia Sea Turtle Center at (912) 635-4043, or e-mail or visit

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