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Captiva breaks record for most loggerhead nests

By Staff | Jul 22, 2020

STEFANIE PLEIN Loggerhead hatchling

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that Captiva has shattered its nest record with 240 loggerhead nests laid so far this season. The previous record was set in 2016 with 194 nests.

Sanibel is having a strong season with 598 nests, but may not surpass the 2017 record of 650.

“We are entering the final weeks of nesting and the daily nest counts are beginning to slowly taper off, so we will see how the next few weeks play out,” Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan said today.

“Warmer than usual Gulf waters may have triggered earlier nesting this season. We are hopeful that the record-breaking number of nests on some beaches, such as Captiva, reflects the success of conservation efforts that went into place decades ago,” she added. “It takes about 25 to 30 years for sea turtles to mature and begin nesting, which is why we may now be seeing results. We are looking forward to seeing how the statewide nesting numbers look at the end of the season.”

Over the past five years, the SCCF turtle team documented an average of 785 per year, up from previous annual counts, which may indicate recovery.

SCCF Record loggerhead nests

Conservation efforts include federal protection through the listing of sea turtles as threatened and endangered species and federal laws requiring turtle excluder devices on commercial fishing vessels, as well as state laws in Florida protecting sea turtles from harvest and requiring permits to interact with them. Statewide nest protection efforts, local beach lighting ordinances and the cumulative impact of more public education on keeping beaches sea turtle-friendly have also improved habitat for nesting.

As of today, 146 nests had hatched on the islands’ beaches and more than 8,000 hatchlings had reached the sea this year. Hatching will continue through October. Last year set a new record for the number of hatchlings, with more than 48,400 making it to sea.