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15 May 2018
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One of the most beloved creatures near your Charleston beach house is the loggerhead sea turtle.  It has become a mascot of sorts for the Lowcountry. These gentle giants have faced many threats to their survival.  But now, with the new and improved, state-of-the-art turtle hospital at the SC Aquarium, as well as initiatives and laws to protect their nests, they’re doing better than they have in years. This past Thursday, the good folks at the Turtle Hospital released two sea turtles back into the wild after having been nursed back to health.  One, a 55-pound loggerhead named Rhaegal, was rescued in Virginia last November after being found cold-stunned and almost dead.  The second turtle, a Kemp’s Ridley named Coral, was found last July near Edisto.  He had been struck by a boat and was also in grave danger. This was the first turtle release of the year.  It took place near on the IOP near the county park, where hundreds of well-wishers cheered them on.  I’ve been to these releases before, and they are a triumphant, joyous event. 

In a Charleston beach house?  Lights out for Loggerheads

Word to the wise: there is a very important rule if you’re staying in a Charleston beach house during the summer months. May means many things… warm weather, the end of school, graduations, Mother’s Day, weddings, Memorial Day, which will mark the beginning of peak season for beach rentals Charleston. May also marks the start of something else -  loggerhead turtle nesting season near all our luxury beach house rentals SC!  The season officially began on May 1st and lasts through the end of October. As the name suggests, a beach house Charleston is a great way to experience the beach, the city of Charleston  -  and also these giants of the sea who use our fair barrier islands to birth their young. Populations of loggerhead turtles were seriously declining for several years.  Thank goodness both public and private sectors woke up to the dire situation.  Due to the work of the Department of Natural Resources and many dedicated staff and volunteers, their numbers are starting to rebound.  As a matter of fact, recent years have shown record numbers of nests. In a typical year, a thousand or more turtle nests are laid along the 190 miles of South Carolina beaches, not far from SC vacation rentals.  This makes the state of South Carolina second only to Florida in the number of sea turtle nests. Last Tuesday, May 8th, the first nest of the season was laid.  It was a loggerhead nest on Daufuskie Island.  Read more here

Laws about Loggerheads and your Charleston beach house

If you have stayed in one of our rental homes South Carolina -  namely one of our Isle of Palms vacation rentals  -  during the summer months, you very well have seen a turtle nest cordoned off in the dunes. If you're staying in a luxury house on Isle of Palms, you need to be aware of certain laws.  Several ordinances of the City of Isle of Palms are written to offer protection to these magnificent creatures.  They include:

No personal property shall be located within 25 feet of any emergency beach access or any turtle nest.

In addition to any other applicable State or Federal laws, no person shall physically harm, harass, or otherwise disturb any sea turtle (including eggs and hatchlings) or any sea bird (including eggs and young). Beached or stranded sea turtles, whales, or dolphins shall be reported immediately to the City Police Department.

It shall be unlawful for any person to allow a dog to disturb nesting sea turtlesturtle nests or turtle hatchlings.

Most of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals are oceanfront, or very close to the beach.  The main ordinance requires that all exterior lights of our beach house rentals Charleston SC be turned off from sunset to sunrise during turtle nesting season.  That’s because artificial lighting confuses the baby hatchlings and the mamas as well, since they mistake it for the reflection of the moon and stars off the ocean, which they use to navigate.  Even flashlights and any small lighting visible from the water or beach can spell disaster for the turtles.  I’ve pasted in the entire IOP lighting ordinance below.

Other Turtle Resources near your Charleston beach house

The Turtle Team The Island Turtle Team is made up of volunteers who work tirelessly.  They mark and protect nests, count eggs, relocate them when necessary.  They keep an eye peeled for injured or distressed turtles who need hospitalization at the Aquarium.  Volunteers also keep accurate records, all in an effort to ensure successful survival of the species.  The team keeps a website with the latest photos and info on their progress, as well as records of past nesting seasons.  And here’s the turtle page on the City of IOP’s website. SCDNR Here is the DNR official website, with much more information on the turtles.   So keep an eye peeled for turtles when you’re staying near the beach.  Be sure to turn out those lights.  And as always, contact EP for the best possible Charleston beach house. All best, Lowcountry Lisa your Isle of Palms vacation blogger  

Sec. 5-4-17. Sea turtle protection; outdoor lighting regulations.

(a) Definitions. The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this section, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this subsection.  This is true except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

(1) Artificial light means any source of light emanating from a manmade device, including, but not limited to, incandescent, mercury vapor, metal halide, or sodium lamps, flashlights, spotlights, streetlights, vehicular lights, construction or security lights.

(2) Floodlight means reflector-type light fixture which is attached directly to a building and which is unshielded.

(3) Low profile luminary means a light fixture set on a base which raises the source of the light no higher than forty-eight inches (48") off the ground, and designed in such a way that light is directed downward from a hooded light source.

(4) Development means any existing structure for which a building permit has been duly issued and any new construction or remodeling of existing structures when such remodeling includes alteration of exterior lighting.

(5) Person means any individual, firm, association, joint venture, partnership, estate, trust, syndicate, fiduciary, corporation, group or unit, or Federal, State, County or municipal government.

(6) Pole lighting means a light fixture set on a base or pole which raises the source of the light higher than forty-eight inches (48") off the ground.

(b) Development. 

No artificial light shall illuminate any area of the beach other than in compliance with this section. Building and electrical plans for construction of single-family or multifamily dwellings, commercial or other structures, including electrical plans associated with parking lots, dune walkovers or other outdoor lighting for real property if lighting associated with such construction or development can be seen from the beach, shall be in compliance with the following:

(1) Floodlights shall be prohibited. Wall-mounted light fixtures shall be fitted with hoods so that no light illuminates the beach.

(2) Pole lighting shall be shielded in such a way that the point sources of light will not be visible from the beach. Outdoor lighting shall be held to the minimum necessary for security and convenience.

(3) Low-profile luminaries shall be used in parking lots and such lighting shall be positioned so that no light illuminates the beach.

(4) Dune crosswalks shall utilize low-profile shielded luminaries which shall be turned off from sunset to sunrise during the period of May 1 to October 31 of each year.

(5) Temporary security lights at construction sites shall not be mounted more than fifteen feet (15') above the ground. Illumination from the lights shall not spread beyond the boundary of the property being developed.  In no case shall those lights illuminate the beach.

(c) Use of lighting. 

It is the policy of the City for both new and existing development to minimize artificial light illuminating any area of the beach. To adhere to this policy, lighting of structures which can be seen from the beach shall be in compliance with the following:

(1) Lights illuminating buildings or associate grounds for decorative or recreational purposes shall be shielded or screened such that they are not visible from the beach, or turned off from sunset to sunrise during the period of May 1 to October 31 of each year.

(2) Lights illuminating dune crosswalks of any area oceanward of the primary dune line shall be turned off from sunset to sunrise during the period of May 1 to October 31 of each year.

(3) Security lights shall be permitted throughout the night so long as low-profile luminaries are used and screened in such a way that those lights do not illuminate the beach.

(d) Publicly owned lighting. 

Streetlights and lighting at parks and other publicly owned beach areas shall be subject to the following:

(1) Streetlights shall be located so that most of their illumination will be directed away from the beach. These lights shall be equipped with low-pressure sodium bulbs and shades or shields that will prevent backlighting and render them not visible from the beach.

(2) Lights at parks or other public beach access points shall be shielded or shaded or shall not be utilized during the period of May 1 to October 31 of each year.

(e) Enforcement and penalty. 

Violation of any provision is hereby declared to be a misdemeanor.  It is punishable and enforceable pursuant to the provisions of section 1-3-66.