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Sea turtle nests still hatching after storm

By Staff | Sep 27, 2017

The sea turtle nests fared well during Hurricane Irma with nests still hatching post storm.

SCCF Sea Turtle Coordinator Kelly Sloan said since sea turtles have evolved over millions of years, they know to lay many nests in one season. She said they have documented some of the turtles laying four nests, so if one was lost during Hurricane Irma it was not detrimental.

The east end of the island fared the best during Hurricane Irma with only 13 nests lost. The west end lost 36 nests and had 33 nests left as of last Thursday.

Sloan said they have inventoried 10 nests since the storm passed on the west end. She said with so many nests hatching after the storm, it leads her to expect that the tides did not drown the nest.

So far this season, 41,000 hatchlings have emerged on Sanibel, an increase from last year’s 25,000.

“There’s still nest hatching every day,” Sloan said.

She said that number is greater because there were 19 nests that hatched that were not able to be inventoried before the storm hit.

Captiva lost 18 nests with one surviving the storm, the final nest on Captiva this season. Sloan said the inventory resulted in 27 egg shells.

Captiva had 189 loggerhead sea turtle nests with 6,826 hatchlings emerge. Last year, Captiva had 3,463 hatchlings.

“There were three storms this year and Captiva got hit the hardest,” Sloan said.

After the bridge was cleared following Hurricane Irma, Sloan said SCCF Technician Andrew Glinsky came out to the island to see how the turtle nests fared.

“We were all pleasantly surprised,” she said.

Glinsky and a few interns have been using a GPS unit that helps them find where the nests were located, due to some of the stakes being washed away. Sloan said they are digging where the nests should have been and have found some of the egg chambers.

“It’s always exciting when you think you lost a nest and find viable eggs,” she said.

The remaining nests on the island are staked and daily surveys are being conducted.