Sea turtle nesting season began on May 1st and continues to October 31st. During this time many beachfront properties participate in a program called “Lights Out.” This program is designed to reduce the amount of artificial lighting near the beaches that can disorientate hatchlings and prevent them from reaching the ocean.

Please join us in spreading the word and Helping Us Reach Our Goal of Protecting 200+ Nest this Season by Adopting a Nest Today!

2013 SEA TURTLE NESTS

From Tampa Bay Times, by Craig Pittman.

ST. PETERSBURG —- Tropical Storm Debby tore up Florida’s gulf beaches right in the middle of the nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles.

Yet sea turtle nesting came close to a record high this year, according to biologists with the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. They’re hopeful this is a sign of continued improvement for the loggerhead, listed as a threatened species — although they acknowledge that counting nests is not the same as counting turtle hatchlings.

Along the 250 miles of beaches checked this year, volunteers counted 58,172 loggerhead nests, one of the highest counts since monitoring began in 1989.

The all-time record of 59,918 nests was set in 1998, but the count hit a low of 28,074 in 2007.

“After a steep decline in Florida loggerhead nesting between 1998 and 2007, nesting has risen over the past five years,” said Blair Witherington, a scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “We’re pleased to see this increase, but we recognize that loggerheads, and other sea turtle species, still face many challenges.”

However, Witherington noted, the number of nests does not necessarily correlate with the number of turtle eggs that hatched. He said biologists are still working on their estimates of how many hatchlings climbed out of the sand and trundled toward the ocean.

Florida is crucial to the survival of loggerheads. Ninety percent of all loggerhead nesting in the United States occurs in Florida.

From May until September, thousands of female sea turtles — loggerheads and other species — crawl up on Florida beaches, dig a hole and drop in a clutch of eggs, then cover it back up and swim away. The turtles that lay the eggs are returning to the beaches where they themselves hatched some 30 years before.

Loggerhead nesting had been surging this year when Tropical Storm Debby hit in June, destroying scores of nests.

“Obviously there’s a lot of devastation,” David Yates of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which coordinates sea turtle nesting surveys on most of Pinellas’ beaches, said at the time. “We were having the best year in 15 years, and now we’ve had a substantial washing away.”

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By Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has observed 200 loggerhead turtle nests so far this year — breaking the record of 195 set in 2003, and it isn’t even the end of the nesting season.

It’s hard to say why, but the high number might be attributed to years of conservation efforts or public awareness, said the aquarium’s sea turtle program supervisor, Mike Anderson.

He said the nests, dug by an unknown number of female loggerheads along the 25 miles of Pinellas County beaches that the aquarium monitors, yielded nearly 3,000 hatchlings.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a busy year and we’re still seeing hatchlings coming out,” Anderson said. “All around the state I’ve been hearing there’s some record numbers in other counties too, so it’s just been a good year for loggerheads.”

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Year by year

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has seen a record number of loggerhead turtle nests already this year, with 200 nests observed and two months still remaining in the nesting season. Here are total numbers for previous seasons:

Year Nests
2003 195
2004 104
2005 105
2006 115
2007 38
2008 108
2009 138
2010 119
2011 89
2012 200 *

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

*As of Aug. 29. Turtle nesting season ends in late October.

So far, a record-setting 196 loggerhead turtle nest sites are documented this season with a few weeks to go, according to Clearwater Marine Aquarium officials.

 Mike Anderson doesn’t have a reason for it.

The sea turtle nesting season started early and kept going, he said.

As it turns out, it was also at a record setting pace, as Clearwater Marine Aquarium officials have documented 196 loggerhead turtle nests along the 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches they monitor.

“We could still get some more nests before its over,” said Anderson, who heads the sea turtle nesting program for the aquarium. “We still have a couple more weeks for them to come up and nest.”

Nesting numbers had been pretty steady the last few years. Anderson said the increased activity this year could be attributed to a combination of things, including decades of conservation work and no significant red tide bloom. Anderson said nesting numbers are up all along the coast of Florida.

There usually can be up to 120 nests made along beaches in the Tampa Bay area from May 1 to Oct. 31. Already there were that many nests through June before Tropical Debby brought heavy rainfall and rising tides to Clearwater.

Read the rest of the article at ClearwaterPatch.

Posted in Turtles