The Coastal Wildlife Club does a wonderful job documenting and marking every turtle nest found throughout the nesting season. Loggerheads begin arriving around March with peak activity from May through August.
Each day, the patrollers watch for the telltale signs of a “crawl,” the trail left by a mother turtle, generally a loggerhead in this area. The markings resemble smooth tire tracks with tread on the sides where the turtle’s flippers have dug up the sand. Patrols have to start in the morning, long before waves, wind, rain and beachgoers wipe out the tracks.
Crawls do not always lead to nests. The mother turtle often returns to the water without laying eggs, sometimes because she encounters an obstacle, such as a beach chair, driftwood or piece of lumber from an old dock.
The occasional dog or coyote may dig up a nest, and ghost crabs often burrow down and drag away an egg or two, but it’s raccoons that are the most voracious predators.
Females often nest up to seven times within a season laying clutches from 100-125 eggs. OUCH!
Coming ashore mainly at night females will dig a deep hole and leave soft leathery orbs to incubate for up to 60 days. Hatchlings emerge generally at night and head to the ocean for 20 to 30 years before reaching full size and sexual maturity.
Although males never return to land, females often come back to the same beach and nest within feet of their own place of birth. About 80 percent of the world’s population is believed to nest in Florida or in Oman on the Arabian Peninsula.
In the U.S., Florida accounts for more than 90 percent of the loggerhead nesting population.
We invite you to join us in keeping our beaches “Turtle Friendly”.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, 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.
- Place trash in its proper place.
- Do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
- Do not use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Do not encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.