Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Boom in Florida: Sarasota and Manatee Coasts Experience Remarkable Increase

Florida broke the previous record of 122, 707 loggerhead nests in 2016, and as of August 31 this year, the nests are 133,414 showed in preliminary data. From March to October female turtles lay about five to seven nests in a season. Hatching baby turtles in one could count from 5 to 100.

Loggerhead Nests In Sarasota And Manatee This Sea Season

According to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, they reported falser crawls but fewer nests. False crawl happens when a female turtle is unable to find a suitable spot for laying eggs and returns to water. Their program observes 35 miles of beaches in these two counties.

In 2022, reports say there were 4,891 false crawls and 4,373 nests recorded. But in 2023, there were 5,623 false crawls and 4,373 nests recorded.

Manatee County collaborates with Island Turtle Watch to count the number of nests outside of the shared Long Boat Key between the two counties.

The executive director for Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, Kristen Mazzarella said that the number of loggerhead nests seen by her this this year is average. There happened to be 439 false crawls, and 405 total nests, from which 295 hatched.

Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Boom
Source: News.Yahoo.com

Light Pollution Disrupting Sea Turtles

According to Mazzarella, to some extent, a one-to-one ratio of false crawls are considered normal, but this year she has seen a record number of sea turtles getting disrupted in comparison to other time this is mostly due to light pollution.

Artificial lighting disrupts the nesting females and their hatchlings and makes it harder for them to find the sea from the beach.

To resolve the issue of lighting which disrupted around 10 adult sea turtles and 96 hatchlings, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch is collaborating and working with different communities and municipalities.

Loggerhead Turtles Biggest Threat

As Mazzarella said, hatchling disruption is the biggest problem baby sea turtles have to face. For adult sea turtles, the threat remains as before entanglement with fishing gear, nets, lines, etc.

Steps For Residents To Make Turtle-Friendly Beaches

Mote Marine provided some tips for residents to follow to make our beaches turtle-friendly.

  • Keeping away from turtles’ nests that are marked with yellow stakes and tape.
  • From May to October, try to turn the outdoor lights off to prevent them from getting disrupted.
  • Do not disturb hatching or nesting sea turtles. Keep distance.
  • Don’t use fireworks, this can disrupt them badly.
  • Keep the use of flashlights, or lamps limited unless necessary.

Hurricane Idalia And Its Impact On The Nests

Hurricane Idalia caused more damage than the draught. Draught hasn’t been much of a problem for hatchlings. But hurricane Idalia washed a good number of sea turtle nests in Manatee County according to Mazzarella.

The storm hit 76 nests and the group reported 64 nests have been washed out from the beach. There were 405 nests in this season.

Mazzarella also said, that because of the lack of gas exchange sea turtle eggs can drown in too much water. Reports suggest eggs that are pulled into water are not viable as the embryo detaches itself from the yolk sack.

It is not a total loss for that turtle if a storm or disruption happens as sea turtles lay their eggs across time and the beach, added Mazzarella.

Growth Rate Of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Adult loggerhead sea turtles are approximately 2.5-3.5 feet. They weigh around 250 pounds, but it can get extended to 1000 pounds which is recorded over time.

Baby loggerheads are not more than 2.3 inches. They grow faster in their early days but as the turtle hits sexual maturity the growth rate slows down.

Loggerheads stay sexually active when they are 25-35 in age range.

According to a group of Italian researchers in 2009, they published their findings on the age and size growth rates of baby loggerhead sea turtles.

As the paper says, loggerhead hatchlings experience a growth rate of 11.8 cm per year, but this rate drops in the next 2.5-3.5 years to 3.6 cm. If you want to learn more about loggerhead sea turtles and the growth rate of other sea turtles to help them thrive, check out this article on How Fast Do Different Sea Turtles Grow?

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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