A sea turtle hatchling making its way to the ocean.

Image: Shutterstock

Sea turtle nesting season isn't over yet, but Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) has already recorded a 38-year-record number of nests in the Sarasota area. STCRP monitors sea turtle nesting on the 35-mile stretch of beaches from Longboat Key through Venice.

As of August 4, Mote’s STCRP has documented a total of 5,063 nests across all sea turtle species: 4,888 loggerhead nests, 170 green turtle nests and five other nests. As female sea turtles nest every two to three years, many of them are expected to be returners from 2016, the previous total nest record, which had a total count of 4,588 nests. For the first time in the program’s history, there are at least two green sea turtle nests in every region in Mote’s area of monitoring.

The STCRP has also been tagging a record number of nesting females. The team applies flipper tags and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags, similar to a pet microchip, to nesting females, allowing researchers to estimate the number of individual females nesting on local beaches. As of July 31, STCRP tagged 468 turtles, compared to 2016's record of 451 turtles. The team also logged a record number of turtle encounters at 719. For each encounter, the team records the individual, date, location and what the female is doing during the encounter.

The increase in green sea turtle nesting this year has also presented researchers the opportunity to learn more about the threatened species through satellite tagging. STCRP applied satellite transmitters to seven green sea turtle females this past year, more than ever before, which the public can follow at mote.org/seaturtletracking
Mote sea turtle nesting numbers are available weekly at mote.org/2019nesting.

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