- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The first sea turtle nests of the season have been found on South Carolina beaches.

Media outlets report that 17 nests have been found so far this month, most of them in Beaufort County. The Department of Natural Resources reports that the first recorded nest was laid on Botany Island on May 1. Wildlife officials expect thousands of nests along the state’s shoreline this summer.

“It’s like finding buried treasure,” Janie Lackman, leader of the Fripp Island Turtle Team who has found three nests on the island since Tuesday.

When a nest is found, it is reported to the Department of Natural Resources and staked off so that it’s not disturbed.

Nests typically have about 120 eggs; one is typically used for a DNA research project to help track female turtles’ nesting habits each year, Lackman said.

During nesting season, residents are asked to keep lights off along the beach at night. The lights can confuse the hatchlings as they are trying to make their way back to the ocean.

Last year, 2,080 turtle nests were found across the state, down from the 2013 total of 5,195.

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