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SCCF celebrates record number of hatchlings

By Staff | Oct 11, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED SCCF volunteers Irene Nolan and Stephanie Plein document the remnants of a hatched nest.

With three nests still to hatch, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Kelly Sloane was elated to report on a surprising comeback season with a record number of hatchlings at an end-of-season event on Oct. 5 at the Bailey Homestead for volunteers, staff and interns.

“We all really needed it after last year’s red tide. It shows how resilient sea turtles are. And, how resilient our volunteers are we didn’t lose a single volunteer,” she said. “It was my favorite season yet.”

About 100 volunteers assist in monitoring the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva from May to October at daybreak, looking for signs of crawls, nests and hatchings.

With no storms causing nest damage, a total of 48,886 hatchlings broke a previous record of 41,498 in 2017. The total number of loggerhead sea turtle nests on Sanibel was 625 – coming close to the 2017 record of 649. On Captiva, a total of 193 loggerhead nests just missed tying the 2017 record of 194 nests.

A total of 32 green sea turtle nests was not a record, but was a really good year, Sloane said. Keeping track of all the turtle activity would not be possible without the volunteers.

PHOTO PROVIDED SCCF volunteers Carol Strange and Donna Aldrich, standing, with SCCF biologist Audrey Albrecht at the site of a green sea turtle nest on the west end of the island that had not hatched as of Oct. 11.

“The success of our program and the strength of our conservation efforts are directly tied to our volunteers. We couldn’t do it without them. Their passion, hard work, and positive attitudes are truly inspiring,” Sloan said.

At the season kick-off party in April, SCCF staff asked volunteers to guess how many nests they thought would be laid on the islands. At the end-of-season party, staff announced that volunteer Stephanie Plein guessed 843 and was only seven off of the final count of 850 nests.

The 2019 nest numbers are as follows:

LOGGERHEAD

– East End: 146

– West End: 479

– Captiva: 193

– Total: 818

GREEN

– East End: 5

– West End: 25

– Captiva: 2

– Total: 32