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Tropical Storm Colin impacts island sea turtle nests

By Staff | Jun 15, 2016

A sea turtle heading out to sea. SCCF

Although Tropical Storm Colin washed away quite a few sea turtle nests last week, the female turtles use a strategy that will ensure a successful incubation.

SCCF Sea Turtle Coordinator Kelly Sloan said as of Thursday, June 9, 59 turtle nests were completely washed away on Sanibel and eight nests were washed out on Captiva after Tropical Storm Colin made its way across Southwest Florida.

“Many more were inundated from the strong storm surge,” she said.

Out of the nests washed away, nine were on the east end and 50 on the west end of Sanibel.

According to SCCF, the silver lining in it all is the sea turtles have not hit peak nesting season yet.

Although the tropical storm had an impact on the nests, sea turtles use a strategy that accommodates natural events such as Tropical Storm Colin. Each of the female turtles that come ashore will deposit several nests throughout the nesting season to ensure that even if a storm hits the area, there is a higher probability that at least a few of their nests will have a successful incubation.

In 2004, when Florida had direct hits from Charlie, Frances and Jeanne, 42 percent of loggerhead nests hatched statewide, and 40 percent of the hatchlings successfully emerged from the nests. Those percentages are well within the normal range.

So far, the night survey team have encountered 70 turtles for the sea turtle tagging project.

As of June 10, there were 46 loggerhead nests on Sanibel East, 112 nests on Sanibel West and 59 nests on Captiva for a total of 217 loggerhead nests.

So far this year, there have been a total of 391 loggerhead false crawls as of June 10. There have been 104 on Sanibel East, 213 on Sanibel West and 74 on Captiva.

Last year was a record year with 522 nests on Sanibel and 133 nests on Captiva. The sea turtles typically lay 110 eggs on the island at a time as a strategy because only one in a 1,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.