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Sea Turtle Nesting Season Picking Up

May 17, 2022

Now that we are in middle of May, sea turtle nesting activity has started to pick up with a total of 62 loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nests now on our beaches. SCCF staff and volunteers have been working hard each morning to survey the beaches of both Sanibel and Captiva looking for signs in the sand of sea turtles that have come ashore. 

Four separate teams monitor different stretches of beach every morning at dawn, collecting data from turtle nests and false crawls. If it is determined that the area is a nesting site, it is then marked off with yellow stakes, a screen to discourage predation, and informative signage.

Long-time volunteers Nancy Riley, who is a designated east end permittee, and Gwenda Hiett-Clements are pictured here marking the first nest on the east end this year on May 4. As permittee, Riley documents crawls and nests reported by walkers on the east end, from Tarpon Bay Road Beach to the Lighthouse.

Sanibel and Captiva have collectively logged 62 loggerhead sea turtle nests so far compared to a total of 76 reported nests on this date last year. Of these, 44 have been laid on the west end of Sanibel, seven on the east end of Sanibel, and 11 on Captiva. 

On the east end, one very special turtle was spotted on May 7— a female named Junonia that was satellite tagged by SCCF in 2020! Members of our sea turtle team were hoping she might return this season as they were able to see periods of reliable transmission from her satellite tag that indicated she was making her way from foraging grounds back towards Sanibel.

In addition to our nest monitoring project, sea turtle program staff has returned to patrolling the beach at night as part of our nighttime tagging project. So far, 42% of the turtles we’ve seen have been recaptures, meaning we have encountered them before in the past, including Matcha (seen in 2018 and 2020), and Fighting Conch (seen in 2016 and 2020). Year two of a project looking at the impacts of sand quality on incubation and hatch success is also underway. 

Seasonal Biologist Joseph Moriarty is pictured here measuring a loggerhead as part of the nighttime tagging project.



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