First sea turtle nest of 2013 found on Longboat Key - WNCT

First sea turtle nest of 2013 found on Longboat Key

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

Mote scientists, interns and nearly 250 volunteers in Mote's Sea Turtle Patrol document nesting every day from Longboat Key through Venice.

The first nest was laid on Longboat Key's Sarasota County side by a loggerhead sea turtle. Loggerheads, considered threatened under federal law, are the most common species on local beaches, followed by endangered green sea turtles. In recent years, Sarasota County has also hosted a handful of endangered Kemp's ridleys, among the smallest and rarest sea turtles.

"We're excited to have our first nest of the year, and we hope the season will continue to get under way right on schedule," said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. "The nest was laid just a day before our patrols start, so we are grateful to the residents of Longboat Key for notifying us. The nest was reported to Mote by locals who were checking that their outdoor lighting was turtle-friendly — that's exactly the right thing to do at this time of year."

Light from waterfront properties can disorient nesting female turtles and their young, which emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea. Residents and visitors should shield or turn off lights visible from the beach during nesting season. 

This year, Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program will continue its long-term studies of local sea turtles by documenting every sea turtle nest and false crawl (when a turtle emerges but does not leave a nest) in our patrol area, collecting scientific data about each nest when it is found. Mote will also mark a representative sample of nests with yellow stakes and collect detailed data about those nests through their hatch, allowing us to document local trends in nest success as part of the sea turtle conservation and research mission Mote has carried out for more than three decades.

During its history, the Program has monitored 30,012 sea turtle nests and documented 27,205 false crawls along our 35-mile patrol area.

This research has shown that loggerhead sea turtle nest numbers have increased locally in recent years. After reaching a low point of 735 nests in 2007, local loggerhead nest numbers reached 2,462 in 2012, breaking a 31-year record for Mote's patrol area. Florida's loggerhead sea turtle nesting may be varying over decade-long cycles of increase and decrease, possibly influenced by broad-scale climate patterns. Continuing to gather local nesting data is vital for documenting population trends in sea turtles — long lived species that can take 30 years to mature.

This year's nest numbers will be posted each Monday at www.mote.org/2013nesting

Tips for the Public

Mote encourages coastal residents and visitors to follow these turtle-friendly tips during nesting season, May 1 - Oct. 31.

Do:

  • If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance
  • Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October
  • Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water
  • Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water

 

Do Not:

  • Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles
  • Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach
  • Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water
  • Use fireworks on the beach

Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff's department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory's Sea Turtle Program at 388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle contact Mote's Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212.

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