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

178 Sea Turtle Nests, Two Lucky Loggerhead Encounters

May 28, 2024
loggerhead on beach during day

Image by Cheri Hollis

So far this season, SCCF has documented a total of 178 turtle nests on Sanibel and Captiva Islands — 177 loggerhead nests and 1 leatherback nest. 

Forty-four loggerhead nests have been documented on Captiva, and 133 loggerhead nests and 1 leatherback nest have been found on Sanibel. 

Last week, the SCCF team encountered two loggerheads during morning surveys! One turtle had just finished nesting, and the other was returning to the Gulf after a false crawl (when the female comes ashore to nest but returns to the water without having laid eggs). It’s rare to see a nesting loggerhead during the day, as they generally come to shore at night. 

If you see a sea turtle exhibiting nesting behavior, do not interfere with the process or try to get closer. To report a suspected new nest or issues with nests/turtles, beach lighting, or beach furniture, please call the SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline at 978-728-3663. 

Both nests and false crawls are documented by SCCF’s survey teams each morning. Once a nest is found, it is immediately staked off and screened to protect the eggs from both beachgoers and coyotes. 

person applying pepper to nest

New Method to Deter Coyote Predation
In order to further decrease coyote predation on the nests, we have started applying habanero pepper in the sand around the clutch of eggs. While the protective screen works to prevent coyotes from digging down to the eggs, the pepper is intended to affect their sense of smell and deter digging. 

Nighttime Tagging Update
Since May 1, the SCCF nighttime sea turtle team has had 73 encounters with nesting females. Of these, we’ve had repeat encounters with turtles that we first documented in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022!

Each year, our nighttime tagging program documents nesting sea turtles on the islands between May through July. By identifying  previously tagged individuals and tagging never-before-seen turtles, we can better understand the behavioral responses of our turtles to local pressures.


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