Beginning in May, not only does the weather warm up but turtle season begins on Jekyll Island. Some might not be familiar with what exactly turtle season is, and that’s okay!
During May until July, you’ll notice the flashing lights as you drive onto the island, signaling to you that you have entered a Turtle Xing. At this time of year, terrapins begin their nesting season and it is during this time that they are most likely to be crossing the Jekyll Island Causeway. Now as many of you do know, the causeway can be rather busy and traffic-packed! It is because of this that 864 terrapins have been struck and killed by cars on this very causeway.
In steps the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a hospital for ill and injured sea turtles, and is the only hospital of its kind in the state of Georgia.
It is calculated that at least 43,000 MILES have been driven along the causeway in efforts to save terrapins who appear to be trying to cross over the road. If you’ve visited Jekyll Island in the past month, then you probably have seen the Georgia Sea Turtle Center vans parked along the causeway for just this cause! But unfortunately they can’t always save them all, and that’s why they ask that you drive cautiously!
Now, what do you do if you see a terrapin in the road?
Foremost, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center asks that you ALWAYS put your safety first. If you see a live terrapin in the road, you may move the turtle to the side of the road in the direction it was originally headed for. If the terrapin is injured, move it out of the road and call GSTC at 912-635-4070, while making note of the number on top of the nearest telephone pole. If the terrapin is unfortunately already dead, then you may leave it in the road.
If you personally want to be even MORE aware of the terrapins nesting schedule, you can watch the tides and note that terrapins are most likely to nest a half hour before high tide and up to two hours after high tide.
Through sea turtle rehabilitation, research and education programs, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center aims 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. The Center is open to the general public and offers an interactive Exhibit Gallery and Rehabilitation Pavilion with a number of viewable sea turtle patients.