Sea Turtle Team documents latest crawl ever
The nesting season for loggerheads in Southwest Florida typically runs from April 15 through early August. Green turtles start and finish nesting slightly later and it is not uncommon for them to nest through August and September, according to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
On Nov. 16, long after the nesting season ended, the last false crawl of the season was documented on Sanibel’s east end. It was difficult to identify the species based on the tracks because she crawled through very compact sand, and any evidence of a tail-drag would have been difficult to see.
The crawl displayed an alternating pattern characteristic of loggerheads and hawksbills, but it was made by a small turtle; the track was only 27 inches wide. Loggerhead track width ranges from 28 to 49 inches (averaging 37 inches) and hawksbills are slightly smaller, typically 27 to 31 inches wide. Though it has not been confirmed, SCCF believes it was likely the first hawksbill for the islands. They can nest year-round with “peaks” in June and December, so the timing of the crawl fits as well.
The unusually late nesting activity is not limited to the islands. On Dec. 7, the latest nest on record statewide was laid by a green sea turtle in Brevard County. One explanation may be that the green turtle population has grown exponentially. Or there may be a higher number of females nesting during the typical nesting season, with more outliers or individuals nesting on the margins of the season.