Rookery Bay Reserve resource management specialists work in cooperation with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Collier County Natural Resources and the Conservancy of SW Florida to preserve this threatened species. With much assistance from volunteers and summer interns, staff patrol the beaches of Sea Oat Island, Cape Romano, Kice Island, and other islands in the Ten Thousand Islands five days a week during nesting season to locate nests and place cages over them so that the eggs will be protected from predation by raccoons. Each nest contains between 80 to 120 eggs.
After roughly 60 days, baby turtles emerge from the nests under the cover of darkness and crawl to the water, swimming until they reach relative safety in seaweed beds before being swept away on currents across the sea. Resource managers follow up on each nest to document the number of hatched eggs to get a better understanding of nesting success.
Although cages cannot protect nests from inundation by high tides or fire ant predation, the incorporation of caging efforts has increased nesting success in the reserve tremendously. Rookery Bay Research Reserve staff rely on help from interns and volunteers to protect and monitor the nests inside reserve boundaries.
Catch up on our sea turtle interns' latest adventures at their blog.
Sea Turtle Nesting Update through Oct. 8
|Nesting Locations|| Nests Caged
||Total False Crawls||Nests Complete
|This Year||Last Year||This Year||Last Year||This Year||Last Year||Disoriented|
|Sea Oat Island||9||24||3||14||7||1||0|
|Kice & Cape Romano||175||135||167||127||147||70||0|
|Rookery Bay Totals||636||717||742||775||441||190||0|
|Collier County Totals||1595||1635||1587||1988||1070||743||31|
Nest monitoring on Keewaydin Island is managed by the Conservancy of SW Florida. Nest monitoring in the Ten Thousand Islands is managed cooperatively with Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Nesting totals courtesy of Collier County Parks and Recreation Department.