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SCCF: Peak sea turtle nesting season kicks in

By SCCF - | Jun 9, 2021

MEGAN REED Loggerhead sea turtle laying eggs on June 2 at sunrise on Captiva.

June is peak nesting season for sea turtles, so it is an exciting month for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation as it monitors nests and addresses a few on-the-ground projects.

SCCF Sea Turtle Program staff are relocating nests on Captiva in preparation for the upcoming beach renourishment project by the Captiva Erosion Prevention District, officials reported. Existing nests within the project area will have hatched prior to mobilization at the end of July. The SCCF is operating under a permit issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to do the work.

“The team’s highest priority is limiting the impacts of moving the eggs by minimizing the number of nests that need to be moved and the distance they are transported,” Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Kelly Sloan said.

Although nesting activity is rarely reported on the Sanibel Causeway Islands, the SCCF has been contracted to monitor Island B daily to document and relocate nests before construction begins on the island on Aug. 1. Additionally, the SCCF is launching a research project to study the impacts of sand quality on nest temperature, moisture and how the water moves through the sand surrounding the nest.

“The results of this multi-year project will help SCCF identify the incubation conditions that support high hatching success,” Sloan said.

SCCF New SCCF interns Taylor Lawrence and Malina Baker during a training session.

Three new interns joined the team to help with monitoring, relocation and research efforts. Emily Skinner, Taylor Lawrence, and Malina Baker arrived two weeks ago.

SCCF’s team had recorded 228 loggerhead nests and three green sea turtle nests as of June 2. There appears to be a high proportion of returning turtles nesting on Sanibel. Sixty-three percent of the turtles have been previously tagged by the team.

“Having this many recaptures provides great information, such as how often turtles are nesting, seasonal variations in nest site selection and growth rates,” Sloan said.

Those who come upon a female during nesting season are asked to keep their distance, be quiet, do not use a flashlight or white light, and enjoy the moment. For information, visit SanCapLifeSavers.org.