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SCCF records rare leatherback nests on both islands

By Staff | May 1, 2020

SCCF SCCF Land Conservation Steward Victor Young, one of several staff members from other departments who are aiding with morning monitoring of the beaches until turtle volunteers can again help out.

On April 29, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that there are a total of 13 sea turtle nests between Sanibel and Captiva, with 11 loggerhead and two rare leatherback nests.

Since its April 22 update, sea turtle monitoring surveys found six nests and 15 false crawls from loggerhead sea turtles on Sanibel. Last week, the SCCF documented three nests and two false crawls from loggerheads and one leatherback nest on Captiva.

“Leatherback sea turtles are very rare on Sanibel and Captiva, and this year we are extremely fortunate to have one leatherback nest on each island,” Research Associate Andrew Glinsky said. “Leatherbacks are the largest of all species of sea turtle and an uncommon visitor to Florida’s Gulf coast.”

As of April 29, the total false crawls for the season were 21.

“The sea turtle season is beginning to pick up and soon turtles will be nesting on the beaches every night and we expect to nest counts to increase,” Glinsky said.

The SCCF’s sea turtle monitoring activity occurs every morning from the Sanibel Lighthouse on Sanibel, up to Redfish Pass on Captiva. Starting May 1, night surveys also began.

The following are tips to help keep the beaches sea turtle friendly:

– Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. If necessary, use amber or red LED bulbs.

– Remove all beach furniture and equipment from the beach at night.

– Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement.

– Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings and nesting sea turtles.

– Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.

– Pick up litter.

Visit seaturtle.org to keep up with the nesting season on the islands daily. To report any issues with sea turtle nests, nesting turtles or hatchlings, contact the SCCF’s Sea Turtle Hotline at 978-728-3663.