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4 Nov 2020
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Sanibel OutdoorsSanibel Wildlife

Sea Turtle Season has wrapped up for 2020, and it has been an incredible year (when everything else was going wrong)!

From April until Halloween, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) located, marked, and monitored a record number of nests on both Sanibel and Captiva.  It broke several records, including:

  • Earliest sea turtle crawl (all species)
  • Earliest loggerhead turtle nest
  • Most loggerhead nests (both Sanibel and Captiva)
  • Most nests (all species)

Part of the success, ironically, came from the tourism industry’s misfortune.  As public beach accesses and hospitality (hotels, motels, resorts, vacation rentals) reservations were forced to lock down in late March due to COVID-19, that left far fewer people on the beach than expected.  SCCF was also challenged, as they initially decided not to have volunteers assist in tracking efforts as a precaution.  There were some of the usual setbacks, most notably when then-Tropical Storm Sally caused many nests to be washed out.  And some outrage was sparked when someone apparently drove over six turtle nests on Captiva in late July.

Even so, the numbers were impressive:

  • 937 nests
  • 78,137 eggs laid
  • 33, 784 confirmed hatchlings emerging (43% made it that far)
  • 139 turtles were tagged for satellite monitoring

Most were loggerhead turtles, but there were also a few green sea turtle nests and six leatherback nests (there were *none* in 2019).  “False crawls” (turtles came to the nest, but decided not to lay eggs in that spot) had a 7% increase for loggerheads this year.  However, green sea turtles only had one false crawl (compared to 28 last year).

SCCF performed several other tests (including blood samples) to analyze and have a big impact on sea turtle conservation efforts.  Some of this information will even be presented at the 2019 International Sea Turtle Symposium.

Sanibel Holiday’s own Front Desk Coordinator, Taitum, has been volunteering in observing nests (aka Turtle Walking) for two years now: "This year was interesting with Covid-19, we were not allowed to start patrolling until mid-May. But, the turtles liked the Sanibel shutdown, they had nests all over the islands. During our end of season virtual party this year, I did ask about an update on the six destroyed turtles nest. SCCF's answer was that it is still being investigated and may take some time before anyone knows anything. This was a very good season for the turtles and I hope it will continue in 2021."

Hopefully, Mother Nature will be kind to wildlife and humans alike next season and we can enjoy turtles even more (COWABUNGA)!

Book Direct and Save…and respect turtle nests!