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Turtle numbers break records on both islands

By Staff | Aug 17, 2016

PHOTO BY ALEX HORN

This year has been a record breaking year for sea turtle nests on Sanibel and Captiva. As of Aug. 11, SCCF has recorded a total of 804 loggerhead nests.

On the west end of Sanibel there are 448 nests and on the east end, there are 170 nests. As of Aug. 10, Captiva has a total of 190 nests. SCCF has also recorded two green sea turtle nests on the west end of Sanibel.

This has been a banner year compared to last year. In 2015, SCCF recorded a total of 626 loggerhead nests on Sanibel and Captiva.

SCCF Sea Turtle Coordinator Kelly Sloan said she feels like years of coordinated conservation efforts are finally starting to pay off.

‘We’ve done a lot of work on nesting beaches, nest protection and also one of the big conservation efforts was putting turtle excluder devices in shrimp nets which are just escape patches so the turtles can get out and not drown and that has made a really significant impact on sea turtle conservation over the years,” Sloan said.

Sloan said that the turtles lay more eggs on the west end of Sanibel because it is a longer strip of land and there are less condos.

“The west end is eight miles and the east end is only five. But, historically the nesting density has been a lot lower on the east end and that was attributed to the heavy condo lighting. Although this year and last year, we’ve been seeing a lot more sea turtles nest on the east end,” she said.

Even though Sanibel and Captiva have enjoyed record breaking sea turtle nest numbers, Sloan says the statewide data won’t be in until the end of season in October.

Since we have entered hatching season on the islands last month, Sloan cautions everyone to be very vigilant when it comes to lighting.

“We’re seeing a lot of disorientations on the beach unfortunately I think as best we can tell, it’s due to interior lighting. So, remember to shut the blinds if you’re in a beach-front condo or home. It makes a huge difference, they’re just so sensitive to light at that life stage and they’ll go to the brightest point on the beach,” Sloan said.

If lost hatchlings are found or if you witness any sea turtle emergencies, call the SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline (978) 728-3663 or the Sanibel Police Department at (239) 472-3111.