As the Sea Turtle Nesting Team was out patrolling the beaches, they discovered a mama loggerhead nesting. This is normally done at night so it was quite a special treat to see this happening in broad daylight.

NESTING SEASON UPDATE: The 2011 sea turtle nesting season is off to a good start. As of July 5, we have found 68 nests in our patrol area which stretches from the south end of Caladesi Island State Park, through Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach. Our first nest was found on May 5, at Sand Key Park. For the 2009 nesting season our first nest was found on May 23, and as of June 22, 2010 we had found 31 nests. In 2010, we ended up with a total of 119 nests. Hopefully with the start that we have had this year, we will beat last year’s nest numbers.

Generally in our area we only see loggerhead turtle nests, but last year nest 119 was laid by a green turtle. This is the first time CMA has ever recorded a green turtle nest. This year we have already had a few unexpected surprises – we have already recorded two Kemp’s Ridley nests in our area. The last time we’ve seen these in our area was 2002. It’s already been an exciting season and it is still very early.

Nests will start hatching in the next week so it’s about to get even busier. Luckily we had a great turnout at our annual sea turtle nesting volunteer orientation meetings which were held early in June. Along with the team of eager nest sitting volunteers, we also have four enthusiastic interns, Christa, Dana, Emily, and Jessica. Also, Beverly Austin, who was a 2010 nesting intern, has stayed with us and is using her experience to help with morning patrol and to train the new interns.

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The Nest was Found on Sand Key Beach on May 5th

cmalogoClearwater, Fla. (July 1, 2011) –Loggerhead hatchlings made their way to the water last night marking the beginning of an important time at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). Staff and volunteers have located 60 nests so far this season, which is up from 44 nests last year at this time. The first nest hatched on July 14th last year. Once the hatchlings make their way out of the shell they head toward the light of the horizon. Once they reach the water, approximately 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will make it to adulthood.

CMA oversees sea turtle nesting on 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches, locating and protecting nests and ensuring the hatchlings make their way into the gulf. During the night, from May through September, the 350-pound female Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to deposit their eggs. Over the last four years, CMA has helped more than 35,000 hatchlings make their way into the Gulf. In 2010, 119 nests were located on Pinellas County beaches, the first being found on May 24. Over 200 volunteers help with the nesting program.

Here are some sea turtle safety reminders:

• Do turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach from May 1 to October 31.

• Do Not harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea. They may appear slow or hesitant and this is normal.

• If you see an adult turtle, Do Not approach, make noises, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash.

• Do Not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water.

If you have concerns about nesting turtles or hatchlings seen on the beach, contact CMA’s sea turtle department at 717-441-1790 x 224 and leave a detailed message expressing your concern.