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It’s turtle time on Fort Myers Beach

July 24, 2019
By LEAH SANKEY (lsankey@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The first loggerhead turtle nest on Fort Myers Beach hatched at 60 days, on July 13. According to Eve Haverfield, director of Turtle Time Inc. 60 days is entirely normal for Fort Myers Beach, as the island gets less sun than surrounding beaches where nests had been hatching for weeks. There were 92 eggs in the first nest and 91 hatched, one egg was infertile. So far, nine nests have hatched on the island.

Loggerheads are Florida's most common sea turtle, and all 107 nests on Fort Myers Beach are loggerhead nests. Their hatchlings are about two inches long. Adult loggerheads can weigh anywhere between 250 to 400 pounds and can grow to more than three feet in length. Their life expectancy is about 47-67 years.

On Wednesday morning, July 17, the nest labeled as "nest #2" was excavated by Turtle Time volunteers. This is done after each nest hatches to count the shells, and oftentimes to find a few stragglers that didn't quite make it out of the nest overnight.

Article Photos

A Turtle Time volunteer holds one of the two hatchlings found July 17 in an excavated nest. The hatchlings were placed in a bucket with wet sand and were released that night near their nest. The nest had 92 hatchlings that made it out of the nest.

PHOTO PROVIDED

The nest excavations involve a lot of delicate digging by a trained volunteer, as loggerhead nests are 18-22 inches deep. There were two living hatchlings still in nest #2, toward the base. They were placed in a bucket with wet sand on the bottom. The bucket was covered with a towel and the loggerhead hatchlings were released on Wednesday night near their nest. The hatchlings use the moon and stars' reflections on waves to find their way to the ocean. This nest had 92 hatchlings that made it out of the nest.

Artificial lights can confuse the sea turtles, this is why it is essential to have turtle friendly lighting where exterior lighting is necessary. Avoid using cell phones, flashlights, or fishing lanterns on the beach at night, as this can also impact hatchlings. If you see any holes on the beach, fill them in. Remember, these little guys are only two inches long.

"It's hatching time. Fill in the holes," said Haverfield. "Do not shine a light on a nest or on a turtle, ever."

There are a record number of nests on Fort Myers Beach in 2019. Up until now, 99 is the most we've ever had on our beach; this year, we have 103.

 
 

 

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