Photo of loggehead sea turtle hatchling by Stephanie Plein
At least 2020 has been good for one thing: a record-breaking nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles on Sanibel and Captiva islands.
It’s official! As of two days ago, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s sea turtle team has documented 659 nests on Sanibel, breaking the previous record number of 649 set in 2017. On Captiva, there are now 265 loggerhead nests, well beyond the previous record of 194 nests set in 2016.
“This season’s nest counts are very encouraging and are a testament to over 60 years of conservation work on Sanibel and Captiva, as well as the entire state of Florida and the surrounding waters,” SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan said. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that monitoring population trends based on nest counts is very complicated.”
Sea turtles have complex life cycles — females lay more than one nest per year and do not typically reproduce every year, so even when the population is stable, it is natural to see fluctuations in nesting from year to year.
The loggerhead population is still fragile, facing many threats, including bycatch in fisheries, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.
To read the full scoop, and learn how local scientists are researching long-term effects of the area’s unprecedented 2018 red tide event on island nests, click here.