Palm Beach Reports Unprecedented Sea Turtle Nesting Season

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Palm Beach and the entire state of Florida experienced a record-breaking year for nesting sea turtles, signaling that long-term conservation efforts to protect these aquatic creatures are yielding positive results.


According to Christine Perretta, the sea turtle nest monitor with DB Ecological Services Inc., there were just over 9,390 nests along Palm Beach’s Atlantic coastline during the 2023 nesting season, which spanned from March 1 through Oct. 31.

This marked a significant increase from the 7,303 sea turtle nests recorded during the entire 2022 season.


Notably, the 2022 numbers had shown a decline from the previous year, when monitors tallied 7,493 nests.

State wildlife officials have also indicated that sea turtle nesting numbers throughout Florida were poised to reach record levels this year, underscoring the success of conservation measures aimed at safeguarding these remarkable creatures.


Perretta expressed confidence in the positive impact of the record-breaking year on loggerhead and green sea turtles, emphasizing the hope for a continued upward trend in sea turtle nesting numbers.

While acknowledging that the nesting data is preliminary, Perretta cautioned against drawing premature conclusions or making population assessments.

She highlighted the cyclical nesting patterns of sea turtles and emphasized that it takes many years for them to reach sexual maturity and begin contributing to the population.

Additionally, Perretta credited the success of the town’s Beach Management Program in creating and maintaining nesting-friendly habitats for sea turtles.

She specifically cited Palm Beach’s sand replacement and dune restoration projects as examples of effective initiatives aimed at supporting sea turtle nesting.

In August, the Town Council approved a plan to enhance Palm Beach’s Beach Management Program by incorporating an educational component.

This initiative includes the installation of new signs at each beach access point and the distribution of letters from the town to property owners, outlining the human activities that can harm sea turtles and their eggs and hatchlings.

According to Perretta, the majority of sea turtle nesting activity occurred in June and July of this year.

By the midpoint of the season, monitors had already documented 8,423 nests, surpassing the previous year’s numbers in just half the time.

Perretta expressed great anticipation for the 2024 nesting season, conveying excitement about what it may bring in terms of sea turtle nesting activity.

Preliminary data for the state indicate record-breaking numbers for loggerhead and sea turtle nests as of September 30, the most recent figures available, according to a spokesperson from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Although the official finalized statement on sea turtle nesting counts will not be available until January, as state permit holders have until November 30 to submit their final nest counts, the outlook is positive for loggerhead and green sea turtles across the state, not just in Palm Beach.

As of September 30, Florida had recorded 133,941 loggerhead nests and 76,543 green sea turtle nests, as reported by the FWC.

The previous record for loggerhead nests was 122,707 in 2016, while the previous record for green sea turtle nests was 53,102 in 2017.

Preliminary numbers for this year also indicate that monitors recorded 1,711 leatherback nests and 10 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nests.

When Do Sea Turtle Eggs Hatch?

The incubation period for most sea turtle eggs ranges from 50 to 70 days, with warm temperatures being essential for the eggs to hatch within two months.

Typically, baby sea turtles emerge from their eggs between 9 pm and 5 am. Different species of sea turtles lay their eggs at varying times, leading to variations in the hatching periods around the world.

For instance, leatherback sea turtles lay eggs in Florida from March to August, resulting in baby leatherbacks hatching between May and October.

Loggerhead sea turtles’ nest in June, and the nesting period extends until late July, leading to hatching occurring in August and September.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea turtles nest in Texas’s Gulf Shores between March and May, with hatchlings emerging from the nests in late May or early July.

Green and hawksbill turtles travel to the remote shores of the Parthenian Islands of Malaysia to lay eggs from late April to June, with the hatchlings breaking free from the eggs in late June and August.

As evidenced, the timing of sea turtle hatching varies, but the majority of sea turtle eggs hatch in the summer when the weather is warm. Learn more here, When Do Sea Turtle Eggs Hatch

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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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