Past guests Judy and Steve G. were just thrilled to be able to experience this amazing sight of a Loggerhead Turtle laying eggs Tuesday morning, near Beach Access 1 around 6:30 a.m.
According to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources: “Female loggerheads reach maturity at about 35 years of age. Every 2 – 3 years they mate in coastal waters and return to nest on their natal beach. They emerge onto to the beach every 14 days laying an average of 4 clutches of 100-126 eggs. Once a female loggerhead has emerged onto the nesting beach, she will clear away the dry sand with her front flippers and then dig an egg chamber with her rear flippers. She then deposits her eggs into the nest chamber. The eggs are pliable, white and are the size of ping-pong balls.”
Once all of the eggs are in the chamber, the mother turtle uses her rear flippers to push sand over the top of the egg cavity. Gradually, she packs the sand down over the top and then begins using her front flippers to disguise the nest. By throwing sand in all directions, it is much harder for predators to find the eggs. After the nest is thoroughly concealed — it’s very exhaustive work! — the female crawls back to the sea. Once the mother loggerhead has left a nest, she never returns to tend it.
It then becomes a waiting game! The eggs will incubate for approximately 60 days before hatching. Interestingly enough, temperature plays a role in determining the gender of the hatchlings. A cooler nest (below 82 degrees F) will produce more males, while a warmer nest (above 85 degrees F) will produce more females.
More from NOAA: “After emerging from their shells, the hatchlings work together to push the sand and shells down to the bottom of the next chamber and then wait just beneath the surface of the sand for the cooler temperatures at night. When they emerge, they crawl down the beach toward the brightest horizon, which on a natural beach is always toward the sea. Artificial lights confuse hatchlings, and they will head toward the lights of houses, parking lots or roads instead where they unfortunately will die.”
Each year thousands of hatchlings die in Florida due to lighting along beaches. Ocean’s Reach remains committed to educating our guests about important sea turtle protection protocol that will allow us to all do our part to protect these precious creatures.
From April 15 – October 31, guests are advised to keep our beaches dark each evening. After 9pm, they are asked to:
* Turn off ALL lights visible from the beach
* Close curtains and blinds facing the beach
* Avoid flash photography and any type of flashlights on the beach
* Ensure that they have removed all beach furniture and filled in any holes remaining after their day on the beach