Turtle nest numbers up compared to this time last year

Turtle nest numbers up compared to this time last year

BY SUE ERWIN – Green sea turtle nesting is happening later into the season than usual, but Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association volunteers are hopeful there are still a few more new nests before the season officially closes on October 31.

As of August 31, the Association reported 709 Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle nests on the island. There were 576 reported false crawls (when a turtle comes up onto the beach but does not lay a nest). Three Chelonia mydas (green) turtle nests have been reported so far this year.

BGSTA Board Member Melissa Csank said volunteers are continuing to document high numbers of stranded turtles, including four deceased Kemp’s ridley turtles in four days.

“Loggerhead nesting has slowed and appears to be over. However, green turtle nesting is continuing a little later into the season,” Csank said. “Overall we have not had many green nests this year, so we’re happy they’re still nesting.”

If you’re on the beach and see what you think is a red tide-intoxicated baby sea turtle, the best thing to do in that situation is to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hotline (888) 404-FWCC and report it. FWC will then contact the BGSTA to pick it up. This allows FWC to track and document every element of the stranding, and they will work with the rehabilitation agencies to get the hatchling to the place that is most appropriate. It is not advised that you touch a hatchling, but if you think it is in distress, gently place it in a bucket with some damp sand, cover it with a towel, and wait for a volunteer to pick it up.

Patrol members would like to remind residents to be mindful that if you see spray paint on a deceased sea turtle’s shell or head, the turtle has already been documented, so there is no need to call the organization again.

The BGSTA is looking for some kindhearted folks who live locally, have a boat and might be interested in transporting stranded turtles to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) facility on Sanibel Island.

There are no turtles in need of transporting at the moment; this is a request for the future, for when turtles are rescued.

Currently, transporting a turtle to CROW takes about four hours (round trip) by car, so the trip would be much shorter by boat and less stressful for sick or injured turtles.

If you are a turtle lover with a boat and you’re interested in helping, send an email to bocagrandeseaturtles@gmail.com for more information.

Turtle patrol volunteers would like to remind everyone to keep their pets on leashes,

If you come across a sea turtle that is stranded or dead, or if you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the FWC at (888) 404-FWCC.

Go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle for more information on Florida’s sea turtles, and click on “Research,” then “Nesting” for more data on sea turtle nesting.

The BGSTA is actively looking for volunteers. Training and supplies are provided. If you’re available a few mornings a week to assist, go to facebook.com/seaturtleawareness or send an email to bocagrandeseaturtles@gmail.com to find out more details.

The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association is committed to promoting education and awareness of sea turtles and proper beach protocols during nesting season.

Every year the association produces and distributes materials designed to help visitors understand the importance of keeping the beach flat, clean and dark at night. Volunteers hand out reminder magnets, window clingers explaining beach rules (for beachfront rentals), brochures and children’s activity books.

If you’d like to donate, you can send a check to BGSTA, PO Box 478, Boca Grande, FL 33921.