Field Note by Friends of Rookery Bay Summer Sea Turtle Interns Alexa and Jessica –
On May 5 of this year sea turtle season kicked off with our first nest on the tip of Cape Romano which is located in the southern part of the Rookery Bay Reserve!
Sea turtle activity has picked up at a slow and steady rate. As of June 15, we have found a total of 53 nests and 104 false crawls. A false crawl is when a female sea turtle crawls onto the beach and decides not to lay eggs and returns to the water. If she crawls onto the beach and successfully nests, we look for clues such as stirred up vegetation, disturbed or fluffy sand, flipper imprints and more. When we see these clues, we carefully dig to confirm that she did in fact lay eggs.
Next, we collect data on the nest including locational information, sun exposure and distances from the high tide line and vegetation. After all the data is collected, we then move to cage the nest to protect it from predation of animals such as raccoons. We have had a few nests in some challenging places, but we make sure they are all accounted for and protected!
As the season continues and turtle activity picks up, we will have our hands full. We are expecting our first nests to hatch Fourth of July weekend and we are so excited! We will keep you all updated when hatchling season comes around!
Keep up with us and our nest count on our website.
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.