ISLE OF PALMS, SC. - With one break of the sand, the ground began to move in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, and within minutes, dozens of tiny sea turtles broke free, ready for their trek to the Atlantic Ocean.
Kelly Futrell and her family had just begun their vacation when they noticed the nests along the beach.
They knew the turtles were near hatching beneath the surface because the sand was beginning to cave in a bit due to movement, Futrell said.
Then, to the excitement of everyone on the beach, the turtles began to dig their way out, one by one at first, then in droves.
Futrell caught the first moments about 75 sea turtle hatchlings found freedom and began their journey toward the ocean.The video shows them making their way to the water's edge, then disappearing into the ocean one by one, some with a little help from what appeared to be volunteers wearing gloves.
The next evening, Futrell says they witnessed more hatchlings digging their way out, and then the third night, dozens more hatched. "What an experience, once in a lifetime for sure!" she said.
Sea turtles are either endangered or threatened, depending on the species, and therefore, all sea turtles are protected. It is illegal to touch baby sea turtles and disturb sea turtle nests.
The sea turtle nesting season runs from March to October. Many nests are taped off and marked with signs to help protect them. And many states, including Florida, also have special lighting ordinances prohibiting light from reaching the beach and disturbing the nesting turtles at night.