Sea turtle nesting numbers looking up
This year’s sea turtle nesting numbers are looking promising. According to Mote Marine’s website, the week of July 15–21 saw the total number of new sea turtle nests for Longboat Key at 50; compared to 17 nests on Longboat Key in the same week in 2011. The total number of cumulative nests on Longboat Key for the current season is 565; last year’s 2011 cumulative total for Longboat Key at this week was 243.
Mote scientists are optimistic about the nesting numbers despite the damage to the nests done by Tropical Storm Debby several weeks ago. Sea turtle nests cannot survive being submerged with seawater over them for extended periods of time. Mote Marine’s Hayley Rutger said it will take time to determine which nests actually survive the water inundation.
Also, approximately 82 percent of the sea turtle nests lost their yellow marking stakes, and the nests needed to be verified and have their stakes replaced. Rutger said that hopefully the large volume of nests laid so far this season will help offset the potential losses from the storm.
According to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, there have been two nests this week which have produced the first hatchlings of the season on Anna Maria Island. One nest on the beach between Pine Avenue and 66th Street, and another nest on the beach between 52nd Street and Manatee Public Beach have produced 55 hatchlings.
All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered under federal law. Mote’s research provides crucial information to help resource managers protect these ancient reptiles. The following are some tips that you can use to help protect sea 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.