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Research Focuses on Hatching Success of Relocated Nests

August 11, 2021

With a Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) renourishment project expected to begin Aug. 18, SCCF’s sea turtle team has moved 127 nests and is conducting a research study on hatching success. 

The island-wide sand placement project includes a CEPD contract with SCCF to move nests to avoid negative impacts. Nests relocated on Captiva were moved out of the project’s expected start area on the south end to the north end of the island. To date, 48 nests with 4,804 eggs were moved to the north end of Captiva. The team has moved 79 nests to appropriate habitat on Sanibel, which required nightwork during peak season. Those nests contained 7,351 eggs.

Pictured here, Sea Turtle Technician Megan Reed sets up a microstation to monitor a relocated nest’s sand quality and hatching success.

SCCF will continue to move every nest laid leading up to and during the 50-day project. “The timing isn’t ideal for the sea turtles; however, we are using it to our advantage as we undertake research on the effects of sand quality on incubation and hatchling success” said SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera. “Thanks to CEPD’s funding of this critical research, we can learn from the experience in hopes of informing global best management practices.”

CEPD passed resolutions authorizing a $45,000 research grant to SCCF as well as a state-mandated contract for nest relocation and sea turtle/shorebird monitoring. 

The CEPD is a special taxing district that is authorized through legislation to conduct beach renourishment at any time. Beginning the $18.3 million project during sea turtle and shorebird nesting season realized a project cost savings of $3 million and minimized potential adverse impacts during high tourist season.

The last island-wide beach project included northern Sanibel and began after the last sea turtle nest hatched. It cost $19.4 million and began on Oct. 7, 2013. 

SCCF acquired additional permits from Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to relocate nests for this project. New sea turtle team members also underwent required extensive training to minimize any negative impacts associated with egg relocation. When eggs are moved without rotation and within 12 hours of deposition, there is typically a high success rate. 

“Our staff have been working night and day to ensure the best results for our turtles,” said SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan.

 Photos by Shane Antalick


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