SEABROOK ISLAND - A ponderous loggerhead sea turtle crawled out of the ocean here Sunday and laid the season's first nest - on Mother's Day, just as expected.

The loggerhead laid 166 live eggs, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources marine turtle conservation program.

Although the sea turtle nesting season officially runs May 1-Oct. 31, the first arrivals tend to come on the holiday weekend; it's created one of those feel-good Lowcountry lores.

Most years, a thousand or more nests are laid across the state's nearly 190 miles of beaches, making South Carolina the largest nesting state outside of Florida.

Nearly all the nests laid here are loggerheads, a turtle the size of a bistro table. Because of conservation efforts led by DNR and a virtual army of volunteers who monitor the nests, the turtle's numbers here are showing signs of recovering after a long decline.

All seven species of sea turtles are considered to be endangered or threatened, and at least four have been found to nest here.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.