2009 Sea Turtle Nesting
Nesting done, hatchlings hit the waves
A loggerhead sea turtle laid this year's final nest on Aug. 23 on Casey Key. It's been an exciting season for the 35 miles of nesting beaches monitored by Mote staff, interns and volunteers. Our team found three nests laid by an endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle, one of the smallest and rarest sea turtle species. They're the first Kemp's nests confirmed in our area since 1999.
This year, our beaches hosted 952 loggerhead nests and 8 green sea turtle nests, compared with 1,127 loggerhead nests and 3 green nests in 2008.
"Loggerhead nest numbers are down a little from last year, but a good number of hatchlings are reaching the water because we've had fewer storms," said Tony Tucker, manager of Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.
"There's still room for improvement, though - many hatchlings lost their way to the water this year because of disorientation by artificial lights on the beach. Mote scientists hope that management measures in place for 2010 will curb this problem."
Coastal residents, business owners and visitors should remember to keep beaches turtle friendly as hatchlings emerge from the sand and head for the water. Below, we have a list of common dos and don’ts that you can arm yourself with to make sure you're a good neighbor to our seaward residents.
Turtle Nesting Activity and Cumulative Totals
|Loggerhead nests||Loggerhead false crawls||Green nests||Green false crawls||Kemp's ridley nests|
Nesting Update: May 3-May 9
Nesting Update: May 10-May 16
Nesting Update: May 17-May 23
Nesting Update: May 24-May 30
Nesting Update: May 31-June 6
Nesting Update: June 7-June 13
Nesting Update: June 14-June 20
Nesting Update: June 21-June 27
Nesting Update: June 28-July 4
Nesting Update: July 5-July 11
Nesting Update: July 12-July 18
Nesting Update: July 19-July 25
Nesting Update: July 26-August 1
Nesting Update: August 2-August 8
Nesting Update: August 9-August 15
Nesting Update: August 16-August 22
Final Nesting Update: August 23-August 29
Dos and Don'ts
Turtle nesting season along Florida beaches begins May 1 and ends October 31.
Here are some dos and don’ts that people can remember to help clear the way for nesting turtles:
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water
- Place trash in its proper place
- Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles
- Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach
- Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water
- Use fireworks on the beach
Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff’s department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Program at 388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 988-0212.
Mote Marine Laboratory has been a leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. Today, we incorporate public outreach as a key part of our mission. Mote is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an Education Division specializing in public programs for all ages.