As a South Carolinian and animal advocate, Hunting Island State Park is a special place for me because it is home to the 'vulnerable' Loggerhead turtles who frequent our shores each Spring to give birth to future generations. Their 8000 mile solo- journey around the North Atlantic basin from the shores of Europe to the southern coastline of the United States is arduous and fraught with threats. So moved by their sheer persistence and fortitude, and as a volunteer with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Friends of Hunting Island, I give tribute to those Mamma Loggerheads.
Ode to the Mamma Loggerhead
Traversing the mighty millennial seas,
Advancing from a prehistoric slumber,
Departing yesteryears, she flees,
Precious cargo to number.
Instincts honed, target coincided.
Her solemn gait measured . . . the Crawl,
Longitudinally guided. Latitudinally abided.
Digging deep for the nest of nightfall,
Her trance of purpose is her design,
Breeding loggerheads, its next nation.
She covers. She turns. She resigns.
The sea beckons her homeward,
Until the next ovulation.
But what about the Loggerheads hatched in Europe? How are they faring these days? For instance, on the isle of Cypress, there's a stretch of Mediterranean beach similar to Hunting Island that has been home to Loggerheads for hundreds of thousands of years.
After being hunted to near extinction during the first half of the 20th Century, the endangered Loggerheads are making a comeback thanks to pioneering conservation efforts of Cypriot marine biologists.
When they began their conservation efforts in 1978, these scientists reported only 300 turtle nests. Due to their dedicated efforts, today the population has grown to 1,100 nests noted Andreas Demetropoulos, the founder and co-head of a turtle conservation program under the island-nation's Fisheries and Marine Research Department.
While that may not sound like a lot, with Loggerheads' reproductive cycles sometimes stretching out as long as three decades, the results are "quite spectacular," noted Demetropoulos. They are classified 'endangered, but they are making a comeback
Turtle Excluder Device [TED]
Ultimately the greatest threat to sea turtles in general is the destruction of their habitats. That's why conservation initiatives like Demetropoulus teams on Cyprus are so vital to the continuation of the species.
Turtles world-wide face multiple threats to their survival, from direct hunting and international trade (despite protection from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species), to entanglement in fishing nets, plastic refuse and long-line fishing hooks.
Fortunately the 'Turtle Excluder Device [TED]' is helping. This is a specialized device that allows a captured sea turtle to escape when caught in a fisherman's net. Hopefully, this device and more attention by conservation groups will allow the Cyprus Loggerhead to live and thrive as well as those that return to Hunting Island State Park in the U.S -- and remove them from the 'endangered' list very soon.
Primary Source: Endangered Loggerheads