A Successful Nesting Season for Green Sea Turtles
On Nov. 24, the final remaining sea turtle nest incubating on the beach was inventoried. This particular nest was laid by a green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the second-to-last nest laid this season and the second latest nest laid in SCCF history (Sept. 5). The record for the latest nest laid was also documented this season, just a few days later by another green turtle. Overall, 2021 was a great season for green turtles, with SCCF documenting a total of 27 green nests, all on Sanibel, that produced 1,733 emerged hatchlings. Nesting green turtles tend to follow a biennial reproductive cycle; odd years in Florida are “high” nest count years. SCCF has documented record counts for green hatchlings-to-sea every odd year since 2017. This species has nested with increasing frequency statewide and in Southwest Florida since the 1980s—an encouraging trend.
Green Sea Turtle Release
On Nov. 30, SCCF and the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) worked together to give one post-hatchling green turtle a head start. This turtle was admitted to CROW after it was found washed ashore in Boca Grande with a flipper injury. After several weeks of successful rehabilitation, the turtle was ready for release. No longer a freshly emerged hatchling, the energy from its yolk sac was depleted. Hatchling energy resources are normally used during the “frenzy” swimming period that can last up to several days as hatchlings swim to reach safer offshore waters. A special release strategy was necessary to ensure the turtle would reach offshore waters to an appropriate sargassum habitat used at this life stage. Staff from SCCF and CROW took SCCF’s research vessel, Norma Campbell, 30 miles offshore to sargassum communities, and returned the turtle to an area where it can forage, shelter, and continue to grow.