Last Friday, Mote Marine Laboratory's Sea Turtle Patrol discovered the first two loggerhead sea turtle nests of the season on Longboat Key.
And after a near-record-breaking nesting season in 2017, Mote hopes the trend will continue. In 2017, there were 4,503 sea turtle nests from Longboat Key through Venice; Mote plans to continue its long-term studies of local sea turtles by documenting every sea turtle nest and false crawl (when a turtle emerges but does not leave a nest) in its patrol area, marking each nest and collecting data about it. Starting next Monday, May 7, the public can view weekly counts of sea turtle nests on local beaches at mote.org/2018nesting.
“Now that we have identified our first nests of the season, we urge beachgoers to enjoy our wonderful beaches, but also to be mindful of endangered and threatened sea turtle species that have been nesting here for millions of years,” says Mote biologist Melissa Bernhard. “We want people to know they’re here and understand how to protect them by using turtle-friendly practices.”
To that end, Mote and the Town of Longboat Key worked with Ringling College of Art and Design students Silpa Joe and India Boeckh on a sea turtle awareness campaign that includes posters, elevator clings, table tents, coasters, coloring place mats and luggage tags for beach furniture.
Threatened loggerheads are the most common sea turtles species found on southwest Florida beaches, followed by threatened green sea turtles; in recent years, Sarasota County has also hosted a handful of endangered Kemp’s ridleys—the smallest and rarest sea turtles. For more information about sea turtles and their nesting season—as well as a list of do's and don'ts to protect sea turtles and their hatchlings—click here.