SEA TURTLE MONITORING

Sea Turtle Program | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

About

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.

Nests

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.

Sea Turtle Nests | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Sea Turtle Temperatures | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Incubation

Why it’s Important: Keewaydin appears to be producing male hatchlings regularly which makes it a very important nesting ground. Nests on the east coast of Florida are producing mainly female biased clutches so Keewaydin is supplying the South Florida Nesting Subpopulation with much needed males. This is one of the longest and most intensive incubation temperature studies of its kind and is contributing invaluable data into the professional community. The data are also being used to educate the public on the anthropogenic and environmental factors that influence sea turtle nests. Data were published in 2008 and have been presented at several of the Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation conferences.

As of July 2018, 1,139 temperature data loggers have been deployed in sea turtle nests with the help of Conservancy interns.

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.

Nest Monitoring

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.

Nest Monitoring | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Check Out our Sea Turtle Program | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Check Out

Catch up on our sea turtle intern’s latest adventures at their blog.

Read Cape Romano Complex Sea Turtle Annual Report 2016.

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