When we hear about sea turtles, the news isn’t often good. We frequently hear about their nesting grounds being decimated or perhaps that they are on the endangered species list.
In Southwest Florida, however, some of the beaches are seeing record numbers of turtles nesting and conservationists aren’t sure why. Those beaches, including Marco Island, Vanderbilt, Bonita, and Naples, are seeing the biggest season on record.
According to Florida’s Must Do Visitor Guide, Loggerhead and Green sea turtles are commonly seen on the beaches of Southwest Florida when it is nesting season. Volunteers that are responsible for looking after those nests are thrilled with how many there are this year.
According to a report in the Marco Eagle newspaper, in Collier County, which includes Bonita Beach, there were just under 2,000 nests reported. This shattered all of the previous records since counting began.
On Keewaydin Island, there were 609 nests and 108 nests were seen on Marco Island. Authorities feel that the 108 nests is an undercount. High waters kept volunteers from counting all of the nests on Marco Island during the season.
According to the Marco Eagle newspaper, Maura Kraus, an environmental specialist for Collier County, said she had never seen numbers like this. She went on to say: “And they are hatching really, really well. I had some underwater a long time and they still hatched.”
There was other good news, including the first Green turtle nest ever seen on Marco Island. They also found a leatherback turtle nest in Collier County, which is a first for the mainland.
282 nests were found on Bonita Beach, breaking the 2019 record of 238.
Considering the fact that turtle nests may hold up to 150 eggs, the numbers from all of the nests combined are astounding. Volunteers are standing by to ensure that they make it to the ocean and there is a lot of support for this endeavor.
Considering the fact that only 466 nests were counted in 2005, the numbers are very positive. Kraus expressed how worried they were, but said they have had an upward slope starting in 2016.
Small wooden stakes are used by volunteers to mark the nests along with caution tape. The effort is to keep beachgoers from destroying the nests by walking on them.
Volunteers will then look for any unhatched eggs three days after the nest hatches and if there are any late bloomers, they will be rescued and released at nighttime.Whizzco