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Rare daytime sea turtle nesting

By Staff | Jun 8, 2012

PHOTO PROVIDED Photo taken with a telephoto lens from a safe distance of a loggerhead turtle in the process of nesting after sunrise.

On May 30, I got the rare treat of coming across a loggerhead turtle in the process of nesting. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was done with the day’s patrol and heading toward the exit when I noticed a set of tracks that had not been there a half hour earlier.

When I looked up toward the dune, there was the female, still in the process of nesting. I continued on slowly to not disturb the turtle and parked the Sea Turtle jeep at a distance. If a turtle is disturbed during nesting, she often will abort the nesting attempt, return to the water and may eject her eggs in the water.

I carefully walked back to approximately 200 feet from the turtle and sat to watch her finish the nesting process and return to the water.

SCCF coordinates more than 100 volunteers who patrol the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva every morning at sunrise from May through October. The beach is monitored for the signs left behind by sea turtles that came ashore the night before. It is not often that we are rewarded with seeing a turtle come ashore to nest, since loggerhead turtles typically come ashore to nest at night.

While daytime nesting is unusual, it does occasionally occur. If you come across a sea turtle nesting during the day on Sanibel or Captiva, please keep your distance, stay quiet, and enjoy what you are witnessing. If you have the chance, take a photo (but do not approach the turtle to take it) and e-mail it to abryant@sccf.org to document the nesting.

Also, please call SCCF at 472-3984 to report the nest so it can be staked off for protection.

SCCF (the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed through environmental education, land acquisition, landscaping for wildlife, marine research, natural resource policy, sea turtle conservation and wildlife habitat management. Community support through membership dues and tax-deductible contributions, in addition to grants and staff-generated revenue, makes this work possible.

You can find current nesting stats and more information about the islands’ sea turtles at www.sccf.org or visit our sea turtle blog: www.sccfseaturtleprogram.blogspot.com.