Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Sea Turtle Hatching Season Really Picking Up

July 28, 2021

Hatching season is steadily picking up as 169 nests on Sanibel and Captiva have hatched and 12,463 hatchlings have emerged. There are 626 nests still incubating on Sanibel and Captiva, and SCCF staff and volunteers are hopeful that thousands of hatchlings have yet to emerge on island beaches.

Of these incubating nests, 47 are being monitored with data loggers to determine how sand quality affects the incubation environment and hatch success. These research nests have temperature and moisture probes, and water-level loggers that collect data every 15 minutes throughout incubation. Sand size and color are also being quantified for each nest. Once these research nests hatch, staff will examine any unviable eggs to identify when embryonic development ceased and determine which variables may have contributed. We hope to learn what environmental factors are potentially impeding hatch success, and how these factors vary across the islands.

As the end of July nears, fewer nests are being laid in the region. Staff continues to monitor Sanibel Island throughout the night, seven nights a week, to intercept nesting females, document tags, and collect morphometric information. In the past two weeks, the sea turtle team has encountered 54 turtles—17 that had not been documented before were given new flipper and tracking tags. In the last week, the team observed 14 nests being laid by adult loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). The last week in July marks the final week of nighttime monitoring, so stay tuned for a 2021 nesting report.

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