As summer marches on, the nesting season is slowly winding down. But, as you may already know, that means it is Sea Turtle Hatching Season! The next generation of baby loggerheads has begun to arrive!! July 4th was the first nest to hatch out at the Cape Romano beaches, and they’ve only been increasing since then.
Once we locate a nest that has hatched out, we will wait three days to allow for as many of these little buggers to make their way out as nature intended. Then it’s time to take down the cage and unearth whats left to collect data. Click here to read intern Anthony in-depth explanation about this process last month. A “good” nest will have between 80 and 120 eggs in it, and a good hatching event will have a minimal number of unhatched eggs upon excavation. There are a number of reasons why some eggs might not hatch, but typically there is a small percentage of the eggs that are simply unfertilized.
This year, we’ve had some interesting hatches! We had one unusual nest last week that only had about 30 eggs. Don’t fret, however, because we also had another one that had over 160! And we’ve even had one stellar nest that was a 100% success – that’s right, every single egg in that nest hatched out, and every single hatchling made his or her way out of the nest and into the world.
Because it’s Sea Turtle Hatching Season, it’s more important than ever to make sure your lights are out and your shades are drawn if you’re on the beach. This includes cell phones if you’re out after dark! Remember, these adorable tiny nuggets are only hours old when they peek their heads out of the sand – and their only instincts are to go towards a light source. No, that’s not very smart, but they are newborns and don’t know any better. Your lanai light could result in over a hundred newborn loggerheads getting disoriented, going the wrong way, and never making it to the water.
Additionally, please remember to pick up beach trash and fill in any holes or flatten any sand creations you made while you were there. Garbage, sandcastles and pits become deadly hazards for an animal that’s 3 inches long, and make their already-dangerous quest for the Gulf of Mexico that much harder.
But if all goes well, every one of these pint-sized critters will make it into the Gulf and out to the Atlantic where (hopefully) in 20 or so years’ time, the females will come back to lay their own eggs! So please, do what you can to help make their incredible journey as easy as possible. Thank you!
Tyler Beck, Sea Turtle Intern
Please remember, maintaining a safe distance is imperative for a successful nesting season for all of Florida’s wild life.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. We are committed to preservation through research, education, and land protection.