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SCCF: Highlights of 2020 coastal wildlife nesting seasons


SCCF A 12-day-old snowy plover photographed on May 19.

The 2020 nesting season was truly remarkable, with record sea turtle nest counts, three different species of both sea turtles and shorebirds nesting on our beaches, and several exciting research projects underway. It was certainly a productive and memorable year for SCCF’s Coastal Wildlife program.

Our shorebirds had mixed success in their nesting efforts this year. Our snowy plovers fledged five chicks. The least terns and Wilson’s plovers were unable to produce any young due to storms, high tides and predators. All five plover fledglings left Sanibel in late summer and have been seen as far south as North Keewaydin and as far north as Anclote Key.

The 2020 sea turtle season officially ended on Oct. 31, with the last remaining green sea turtle nest inventoried on Oct. 29. It was a banner nesting year, with many highlights and several broken records for loggerheads and leatherbacks, including:

– Earliest sea turtle crawl (leatherback on April 1)

– Earliest loggerhead nest (April 15)

SCCF/KERRY SALATINO Leatherback hatchling

– Most loggerhead nests on Sanibel (660) and Captiva (266)

– Most total nests combined (loggerhead, green and leatherback)

– Tracked three loggerheads via satellite transmitter

– Most leatherback nests on Sanibel (4) and Captiva (2)

– Encountered Juniper, a leatherback, four times and tracked via satellite transmitter in collaboration with Florida Leatherbacks Inc.

– Emerged hatchlings: 33,825

– First successful leatherback nest on Captiva: 56 hatchlings