By Siesta Sand editorial staff
On April 20, 2020, Stephanie Kettle of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium announced the annual arrival of sea turtles in the Sarasota area. Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program (STCRP) began monitoring Sarasota area beaches on April 15, and found the first loggerhead nest on Siesta Key. Mote reported that Sarasota County is the densest area of loggerhead nesting on Florida’s west coast, although green sea turtles’ nest here as well.
According to Mote data for the week of April 26th – May 2nd, there 28 loggerhead nests have been identified so far this season. This includes 6 nests on Siesta Key, eight on Longboat Key, 10 nests on Casey Key, and 4 on Venice.
Siesta Key has 4 more sea turtle nests compared to this time last year, according to the Mote data. Overall, there are 6 more nests on the five beaches this year compared to last year totals.
Data for the week of April 26th-May 2nd from the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
There are also 38 false crawls reported (FCs on the chart). False crawls are when a female sea turtle crawled onto the beach and returns to the ocean without leaving a nest.
You can follow weekly nesting numbers at mote.org/2020nesting.
How can we all protect sea turtles
Mote provides the following information on their website about how we can all protect sea turtles:
- If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
- Do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, shine lights at turtles, or use flashlights, cell phone lights, or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Do not encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
- Do no use fireworks on the beach.
- Follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles and other large marine life.
- Be sure to stow trash and line when under way. Marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can become ingested by or entangled around marine life.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to better see marine life in your path.
If you see a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle in Sarasota or Manatee county waters, contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212.
Outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
If you suspect that someone is tampering with a sea turtle nest, harassing a sea turtle or has possession of a sea turtle or any of its parts, please call FWC or your local sheriff’s department.
If you find sea turtle hatchlings that are not on the beach or are headed away from the ocean, call Mote’s STCRP for instructions at 941-388-4331. Do not put hatchlings in water or take them into air conditioning. Hatchlings heading towards the ocean should be left alone.