Photo of a nesting loggerhead (Caretta caretta) taken by Kelly Sloan at night — no flash, just a long exposure lit by the moon!
A new nest has already been discovered at Ocean’s Reach, too!
Sea turtle nesting season is off to a phenomenal start!
As of last week, the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) confirmed 29 nests on Sanibel and 14 nests on Captiva, more than seven times the number they found the same time last year.
“It’s hard to believe on this day last year we only had five nests on Sanibel and one nest on Captiva,” said Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan Sloan. “We can’t say that it has to do with fewer people on the beach, but it’s more likely due to the warmer water this season.”
What’s more, they’ve also found two rare leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) nests, which prompted a group of scientists from Jupiter, Florida to travel over to join in the research.
The SCCF sea turtle team recently kicked off the fifth season of their nighttime sea turtle research program.
“Starting on May 1, our team surveys the beach from sunset to sunrise in search of nesting females. When a turtle is encountered, we measure the turtle and apply tags so we can identify that individual on future nesting events and learn about her behavior,” she said.
Information obtained at night gives the team incredible insight into metapopulation dynamics, temporal and spatial nesting patterns, habitat use, and much more. Managers use the data to identify emerging threats and develop informed conservation strategies.
“This year we’re also collecting blood from nesting females to determine the long-term effects of the 2018 red tide bloom on maternal health,” said Sloan. “Many of our loggerheads are on a two-year nesting cycle, which means a large percentage of the turtles we see on the beach this year were also here during the catastrophic red tide event.”