Turtle Talk Archive

First turtle nests appear on Southwest Florida beaches

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Written by Andrea Stetson Special to The News-Press
Apr. 30
Link to original article: http://www.news-press.com/article/20130501/ENT13/305010034/First-turtle-nests-appear-Southwest-Florida-beaches?nclick_check=1

Unlike last year’s fast start, slower cycle forecast for 2013.

Captiva boasted one of the first loggerhead nests in Southwest Florida, laid Sunday. Loggerhead nesting season officially begins today. / The News-Press file photo

More information

Adults grow to more than 3 feet long and weigh 200-350 pounds
• They may travel thousands of miles from feeding grounds to nesting beaches.
• A female loggerhead may nest one to seven times during a season at about 15-day intervals.
• Incubation takes 55-65 days.
• Hatchlings emerge at night and are guided by the lighter Gulf horizon to the water.

The law states interior and exterior lights must not be visible on the beach, furniture must be removed from the beach from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (must be behind the dunes and vegetation or up against the house). The rule is in effect from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. May 1 to Oct. 31
Source: Turtle Time

By this time last year turtle nests were already covering local beaches. But 2013 is expected to be a more typical season as nesting begins today.

Warmer water in 2011 and 2012 brought an unusual trend of early nests starting in mid-April. Experts say while the Gulf is warming up near shore and on the surface, the water farther out is chilly and that’s where the turtles are.

“The water column is quite cool out there, and they can’t respond overnight,” said Eve Haverfield, president and founder of Turtle Time, which monitors sea turtles in Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach. “I think we will be back more to the normal cycle.”

Captiva boasted one of the first loggerhead nest in Southwest Florida, laid Sunday. West Palm Beach has the distinction of being the first in the state with its nest on April 20.

“Last year we had the first nest in Lee County on April 20, ” Haverfield said. “In March this year we had colder water temperatures in the 60s.”

Turtles typically start nesting when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees. Even with the later nesting prediction Haverfield and her volunteers have started monitoring the beaches for nests.

“We started on the 28th officially, but we have actually been out there since mid-April,” she said.

Farther north, some visitors from Volusia County found the first nest by Tween Waters Inn in Captiva on Sunday. Amanda Bryant, who monitors turtles for the Sanibel/Captiva Conservation Foundation, said her group has been monitoring Blind Pass, because of a dredging project, since April 15 and will start regular patrols today.

The 2012 season had a higher than usual number of nests, but a storm in June and one in October washed away many nests.

Collier County just got its first nest Tuesday on Park Shore beach.

Maura Kraus, senior environmental specialist Collier County Department of Natural Resources, hopes for more early nests that hatch before the summer’s hurricanes.

“It’s already been a later start,” Kraus said. “The water temp is at 80 so I hope more are coming. We are hoping for some high numbers like we had last year.”

Kraus said a dredging and renourishment project that just wrapped up in Wiggins Pass built a wider beach on the south end of Barefoot Beach.

“That is nice because that was such a low elevation,” Kraus said. “Before, anything that would have nested there would have washed away in a high tide or would not have nested at all. It is a good place for them to nest because there are no lights, and it is in the preserve.”

Southwest Florida sea turtle nesting season off to crawling start

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Link to original article: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/apr/29/southwest-florida-sea-turtle-nesting-season-may/

Monday, April 29, 2013

NAPLES — “Season” is just beginning for sea turtles.

Though nests sometimes are spotted in advance of the May 1 through Oct. 31 sea turtle nesting season in Florida, so far none of the threatened species’ nests have been reported in Lee and Collier counties.

“The water is still a little cool. They prefer the water to be about 81 degrees. It’s not quite there yet — maybe another week or two,” said Maura Kraus, Collier County sea turtle program manager.

However, the high number of female Loggerhead sea turtles already roaming the beach is encouraging for a second consecutive year of high nesting productivity, said Kraus and beach monitors from Turtle Time Inc., which monitors sea turtle nests and activity from Fort Myers Beach to the Lee-Collier County line.

Three nests were reported on the east coast nearly two weeks ahead of season, but none have been reported yet on Florida’s west coast, said Eve Haverfield of Turtle Time.

“Last year we had an incredible year even after we lost a lot of nests to two storms — Debby and Isaac. We had all our eggs in one basket when Debby hit,” Kraus said.

Tropical Storm Debby passed offshore of Collier and Lee in June; Isaac did so in August before becoming a hurricane. Last year, more than 800 nests were counted in Collier County and about 200 in south Lee.

The number of nests dropped, then went up again after Debby passed. The 2012 increase followed a decline in nesting among the threatened species for the past 10 years, Kraus said.

Since the same sea turtles won’t return for a couple of years, different turtles will be nesting this year. It’s too early to forecast how the season will unfold, officials said.

Sea turtles create nests through August and hatchlings emerge for their trek to the Gulf of Mexico 60 days after the nesting.

Lights from buildings, as well as from cameras and flashlights, may cause false crawls, which is when a female emerges from the Gulf and gets disoriented by these artificial lights and swims back into the Gulf instead of laying her eggs. The lights also can disorient the hatchlings to head inland rather than toward the moonlight reflection from the Gulf.

Officials suggest staying a safe distance from turtles if they’re spotted on the beach so as not to startle them and to remain 25 feet away from nests marked with posts and flags.

Among the greatest factors for the turtles’ nesting season success are weather and beachgoers keeping lights and obstructions, such as furniture, trash, toys sand castles and holes, off the beach.

Ordinances in Marco Island, Naples and unincorporated Collier County call for turning lights off near the beach by 9 p.m. and furniture off the beach by 9:30 p.m.

Residents with beachfront properties are encouraged to check their lights and consider purchasing amber LED lights, Haverfield said.

The 25-watt yellow bug lights no longer are available, and the amber LED lights aren’t yet available at chain stores, such as Home Depot and Lowes. MyFWC.com lists where to purchase turtle-friendly lights, she said.

“I have the glorious job of letting people know if their lights need to be off and remind them to pull down the shades. I start my nightly patrols May 2,” Bonita Springs Environmental Specialist Michael Kirby said.

Some beach renourishment projects are looking to help with nesting, while others could have a detrimental effect, officials said.

“Wiggins Pass dredging is moving along nicely and everything there will be done by the time the turtles get here,” Kraus said.

Little Hickory Island’s beach renourishment project might be better for the economy and people than turtles, Kirby said.

“As city environmental specialist, any shoreline hardening like that, especially on a barrier island, is not the best on the environment, including sea turtles,” he said.

It was important to keep the beach amenity for the local economy, Kirby said, so the best effort possible is being made to get the best sand grain size for turtles.

The beach is just north of Little Hickory Island and south of Lovers Key State Park.

A beach renourishment project was just completed on Marco Island at South Beach, and Hideaway Beach is undergoing renourishment at its north beach.

“Marco Island’s South Beach has just been refilled with 77,000 cubic yards of sand and the entire beach laser-graded, so we’re hoping this improves the beach for sea turtle habitat,” Marco Island Environmental Specialist Nancy Richie said. “Most of the low, standing-water areas were remedied with the grading.”

Effects of the rainy season and hurricane season may be harder to predict, but there is some optimism.

“We are hoping for a mild storm season, especially in the first few months, so nests that are created can survive successfully and hatch,” Richie said. © 2013 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

Sea turtle returned to the wild – WTSP 10 News

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Link to original file with images:

Sarasota, Florida – Mote Marine staff members recently gathered at Lido Beach to say “bye, bye” to Big Bel as they returned the sea turtle to the wild.

Big Bel, a 214 pound loggerhead, was rescued off of Fort Myers Beach at the end of August after Hurricane Isaac passed through. At that time Big Bel was extremely lethargic.

During the turtle’s stay at Mote, vets removed an incredible 22 pounds of epibiota growth (living things like algae and barnacles) from its upper shell. Big Bell also had old wounds and was missing part of a front flipper and most of a rear flipper. But after months of treatment, she was strong enough to return to the Gulf.

Mote’s sea turtle hospital has been treating turtles since 1995.

Read About Florida’s Encouraging 2012 Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Canaveral National Seashore and neighboring beaches in Central Florida are reporting record numbers of loggerhead sea turtle nests, a promising change from a decade-long drop.

Click here to read the rest of the article posted in the Naples Daily News.

Inside Nature’s Giants – Leatherback

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Inside Nature’s Giants – Leatherback: A very interesting program about sea turtles filmed primarily in Florida, including on Bonita Beach, in Lee County. Be forewarned: footage includes the dissection of a dead leatherback turtle. As Dr. Jeanette Wyneken expresses: “For those of you who are not anatomists or interested in anatomy…we do take this dead turtle apart.” But it is still fascinating!