A friend asked me this week about sea turtle walks, and I had to tell her, sadly, that they are probably over because sea turtle nesting season is over.
Nests have been counted, and it looks as though loggerhead nests were waaaay down this year — almost half. However, researchers aren’t ready to say that means there’s a drop in the loggerhead sea turtle population, according to the Associated Press. Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida.
The good news is that other turtle species that commonly nest on Florida beaches — green and leatherback sea turtles — may have made a record number of nests this year. All right!
Today is the end of sea turtle nesting season, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reminds us, and nesting totals are still being counted. Even though Oct. 31 is the end of the nesting season, though, Marine Science Center (and other turtle rehab places around Florida, no doubt) has its hands full year-round.
Sea turtles made national news, too, as sea turtles have been washing up on shore because of winds. (And Tropical Storm Noel isn’t doing any favors, either.) Volunteers have been trying to usher them back into the surf.
Image from NOAA
Overall, sea turtle nesting in Florida appears to be down, but two sea turtle species are nesting in record numbers along the state’s Treasure Coast. Researchers say green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles have more nests in the area around Melbourne and Ft. Pierce, a TCPalm article says. While there are still more loggerhead nests than green or leatherback nests, that’s because loggerheads are the most prevalent species in Florida. The article includes nest numbers from this year and the previous year, plus tips for helping sea turtles.
The Edgewater Beach Hotel in Naples has been fined $500 for not following sea turtle guidelines, Naples Daily News reports. Apparently, the code board there found improper lighting was leading sea turtle hatchlings the wrong way — toward the hotel pool instead of to the ocean.
(Hatchlings follow light to find their way from their beach nests to the ocean, but city lights can lure them in the wrong direction. Many seaside municipalities in Florida have regulations on lights during nesting and hatching season for this reason.)
The hotel has until Sept. 6 to correct the problems or face more fines.
If you are vacationing at oceanside lodging from late spring through early fall, you might want to ask about how the lodging protects sea turtles. Most species are endangered, and all nests are monitored and protected by law.
One resort I stayed at with family a long time ago put a black burlap-type cover on its lampposts to dim them. I think the resort also informed guests about the sea turtles. That’s just being a good neighbor to rare wildlife.
Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
There are fewer sea turtle nests on Pinellas County beaches, this article reports, discouraging marine researchers who patrol the beaches for nests. As one researcher said in the article, the number of nests can fluctuate from year to year, but lately it seems year after year, the number of nests isn’t what it should be.
Just check out this page for sea turtle nesting stats by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission). From 1989 to 2005, it appears there’s a steep drop in the number of nests statewide.
So what’s the big deal with sea turtle nests anyway? Florida is the prime place where loggerhead sea turtles nest (other than the small Middle Eastern country of Oman). Turtles are an important part of the marine environment, the article states.
Have you seen a sea turtle nest this summer?
Photo from NOAA