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

121 Sea Turtle Nests Washed Out from Idalia

September 27, 2023
sea turtle nest recovery on Sanibel

The SCCF sea turtle team has concluded its efforts to recover missing sea turtle nests following Hurricane Idalia in late August. A total of 121 sea turtle nests were washed away by the storm, while 52 nests were found. 

person using GPS on beach post hurricane idalia
Using a Trimble GPS to locate a nest

“We needed to determine whether these nests were completely washed out by the storm, washed over and buried under accreted sand, or if the nest marking materials — including wooden stakes and flagging tape — simply washed out and the eggs were still present,” said SCCF Sea Turtle Biologist Jack Brzoza. “Using a highly accurate Trimble GPS, the exact pre-storm location of each nest was identified so the true presence or absence of the nest could be confirmed.” 

Learn more about how tropical storms impact sea turtles.  

“Our team and volunteers deserve immense credit for all the incredible and laborious efforts it takes to recover that many nests,” Brzoza added.

buried sea turtle nest after idalia
A buried sea turtle nest the day after Idalia

There are currently 16 sea turtle nests still incubating on Sanibel and Captiva’s beaches, and 27,368 hatchlings have emerged over the season. Despite having a record total number of loggerhead nests this year, hatch success rates have been lower than average.

Sea turtle nesting season officially runs through the end of October, and residents should continue following turtle-friendly practices such as turning off beach-front lights after dark, filling in holes, leveling sandcastles, and removing trash, furniture, and debris from the beach.


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