The 2020 nesting season was truly remarkable, with record sea turtle nest counts, three different species of both sea turtles and shorebirds nesting on our beaches, and several exciting research projects underway. It was certainly a productive and memorable year for SCCF’s Coastal Wildlife program.
Our shorebirds had mixed success in their nesting efforts this year. Our snowy plovers (Charadrius nivosus) fledged five chicks, including the one pictured here. The least terns (Sternula antillarum) and Wilson’s plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) were unable to produce any young due to storms, high tides, and predators.
All five snowy plover fledglings left Sanibel in late summer, and have been seen as far south as North Keewaydin and as far north as Anclote Key.
The 2020 sea turtle season officially ended on Oct. 31, with the last remaining green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nest inventoried on Oct. 29. It was a banner nesting year, with many highlights and several broken records for loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea):
Earliest sea turtle crawl (leatherback, April 1)
Earliest loggerhead nest (April 15)
Most loggerhead nests on Sanibel (660) and Captiva (266)
Most total nests combined (loggerhead, green, leatherback)
Tracked 3 loggerheads via satellite transmitter
Most leatherback nests on Sanibel (4) and Captiva (2)
Encountered Juniper the leatherback four times, tracked via satellite transmitter (in collaboration with Florida Leatherbacks, Inc.)
Emerged hatchlings: 33,825
First successful leatherback nest on Captiva: 56 hatchlings, one pictured above
For more information tune in to SCCF's Land. Water. Wildlife. podcast. On one episode, Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht talks about the shorebird nesting season, and in a recently recorded episode, the Sea Turtle Program scientists discuss the sea turtle nesting season in depth.