Sea Turtle Protection
South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE) is a group of volunteers dedicated to sea turtle conservation in Georgetown and Horry counties.
Organized in 1990, SCUTE is permitted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to protect turtle nests, relocate turtle nests if necessary and record turtle deaths through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network.
SCUTE volunteers preserve quality nesting habitats and monitor nests. The group also works to control beachfront lighting, which disorients nesting female turtles and hatchlings. Thanks in part to the efforts of SCUTE, Georgetown County and the town of Pawleys Island have passed ordinances to limit beachfront lighting along their beaches. Beachfront lighting has been minimized in some areas of Horry County as well.
On average, SCUTE records over 100 loggerhead turtle nests with more than 12,000 eggs along the beaches of Horry and Georgetown counties. Volunteers estimate that about 70 percent of the eggs hatch. A limited number of hatchlings reach adulthood, which takes over 30 years. These low odds make the SCUTE and Santee Cooper preservation effort essential to loggerhead sea turtle survival in South Carolina.
Santee Cooper has worked with organizations like SCUTE since 1990 to preserve and protect loggerhead sea turtles. Santee Cooper supports the efforts of SCUTE by shielding lights and working to raise awareness about sea turtles through a public education program.
Santee Cooper provides free, colorful "Lights Out" bumper stickers to remind property owners and visitors to turn off beachfront lights after 10 p.m. during nesting season. Throughout the nesting and hatching season, SCUTE volunteers distribute information to beachgoers who express an interest in turtle conservation. For more information on the loggerhead sea turtle, contact SCUTE at 843-237-9821 or 843-235-8755 or Myrtle Beach State Park at 843-238-0874.