Turtle Tracker: 1998 South Carolina Loggerhead Sea Turtle Study

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Conservancy

The South Carolina Loggerhead Sea Turtle Study is being conducted by Biologist Sally Murphy, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources - Marine Turtle Conservation Program, to determine dispersal patterns, migratory pathways and foraging habitat use of loggerhead sea turtles during the non-nesting period.

The loggerhead turtle is the state reptile of South Carolina. The numbers of loggerhead nests deposited on beaches in South Carolina have declined significantly during the last two decades. It is important to understand the areas and habitat use of the adult loggerheads after the summer nesting season in order to implement management strategies for their survival.

The beach selected for this study is Cape Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Island is the most significant loggerhead nesting beach north of Florida, with an average of 1,000 nests per season. Satellite transmitters were attached to five adult female loggerheads while they were on the nesting beach on the night of 14 July, 1998.

For more information on sea turtles, check out the Sea Turtles Information section of our website.


Click on the turtle's name to see a map of its movements.

CAROLINE - Caroline, originally called No Name, was satellite tagged during a non-nesting emergence. She remained near Cape Island for about two weeks and probably laid another clutch. She then headed south like Flora and Flag and is currently offshore of St. Augustine, Florida. She was the smallest of the tagged loggerheads, measuring 89.5cm in length.

    Thanks to the following who suggested the name "Caroline":
    Katie Ellen Horrigan, Age 9, Charleston, SC
    Mrs. Cone's 3rd grade class, Belle Hall Elementary, Mt. Pleasant, SC
    Phillip Wright, Age 7, Newberry SC
    Team 2 6th graders at Oakbrook Middle School
    Megan Weaver, Age 8, Morrison Elementary School, Clemson, SC
    Annie Snyder, Age 8, Belle Hall SAIL student
    Mrs. Carter's 2nd period 6th Grade Science Class at Beck Middle School in Georgetown, SC

FLAG - Flag was satellite tagged during a non-nesting emergence, also called a "false crawl". She apparently nested several nights later and began moving south about 40 miles offshore For the last month, Flag has taken up residence east of Flagler Beach, Florida. She measured 94.6cm long.

JACKIE - Jackie was satellite tagged after she had nested. She had two large, deep prop cuts on the rear of the carapace, but they were old and healed over. Jackie also had a very large barnacle on the top of her head that reminded the researchers of the pillbox hats that were fashionable in the early 1960s. She measured 99cm long and remained near Cape Island for two weeks and probably laid another clutch. After that Jackie moved north around Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and is currently offshore of southern New Jersey.

FLORA - Flora was satellite tagged during a non-nesting emergence. She remained near Cape Island for two weeks and then at 1:30am on July 27 she probably nested. Flora then headed south along the same general route as Flag, but she made it all way to The Oculina Bank near Vero Beach, Florida. She measured 91.4cm long.

VIRGINIA - Virginia was satellite tagged during a non-nesting emergence. She also remained near Cape Island for two weeks and probably laid another clutch. She then headed north on a parallel route with Jackie. Virginia moved around Cape Hatteras and spent her time during Hurricane Bonnie east of Norfolk, Virginia. She measured 99cm long. As the northern waters become colder, Viginia has quickly moved south to warmer waters.

More detailed information about the study can be obtained from the Marine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resource.