August 31, 2011

There's a New Predator in Town

Predation is a natural part of life for sea turtles and one of the reasons that female turtles lay so many eggs. Nests on Sanibel and Captiva are monitored daily for signs of fire ants, ghost crabs, raccoons, and the occasional bobcat causing damage.  Luckily, this list is fairly short and the damage done by predators on the Islands is minimal compared to other locales.

This March, our predator list increased by one when a coyote (Canis latrans) was photographed by a visitor at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  Luckily, it took Sanibel’s coyote a bit of time to discover sea turtles as a food source.  So far, it has targeted nests with hatchlings in the process of emerging from their eggs, but not yet out of the nest.  It is probably able to hone in on increase in scents emanating from the nest during this time.  

While it is impossible to protect nests from every predator, there are options available to deter many predators.  In this case, screening nests close to hatching has proved successful against the coyote.   The screens are made of wire mesh approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and anchored by tent stakes.  The holes in the screen are large enough to allow hatchlings to emerge from the nest while the screen is in place, but small enough to prevent predators like raccoons, bobcats, and coyotes from digging into the nest.

August 27, 2011

First Documented Sea Turtle Nest in Delaware

As sea turtle nesting season winds down in Florida, the sea turtle community has been abuzz with excitement with the discovery of the first documented sea turtle nest in Delaware.  The nest was found on August 18 in Cape Henlopen State Park.  Initially thought to be a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), further examination of photos taken of the nesting female at dawn confirm that it is actually a green turtle (Chelonia mydas). For more on this exciting discovery-Sea Turtle Nests in Delaware

August 3, 2011

Hatches, Hatches Everywhere!

Sea turtle hatching season is well underway on the islands.  Seventy nests have hatched on Sanibel and 36 on Captiva.  Most of these have been loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nests, but our first green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nest has also hatched!
Green turtle hatchling from a nest on Sanibel.  Photo by A. Bryant

Three days after a nest hatches volunteers with the turtle program excavate the nest and inventory the contents.  So far, our largest nest had a total of 144 eggs and our smallest nest had only 42 eggs.  

Remember, if you come across a sea turtle hatchling on the beach, leave it where you find it and notify SCCF immediately.  We'll give you directions for what to do next to protect the hatching.