Mote Marine reports many locations having surpassed their previous high marks
Through July 16, Mote Marine Laboratory scientists reported a record-breaking number of turtle nests along beaches it monitors — from Longboat Key through Venice. “In addition, the first nests of the 2016 season are starting to hatch,” a news release says.
“We are excited to announce that we have broken the 35-year annual record for sea turtle nests along our area’s beaches,” said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, in the release. As of July 7, she pointed out, the total was 2,638 confirmed nests, “and we are only halfway through the nesting season.”
Nine days later, the figure had climbed to 3,569, Mote’s data shows.
Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and volunteers who monitor local nesting beaches daily from May 1 through Oct. 31 — reported that the July 7 figure had surpassed the previous record — set for the entire 2015 season — by 163 nests.
Longboat Key broke its record of 698 nests on Thursday, June 30, with 716 nests; and Casey Key broke its record of 1,174 nests on Saturday, July 2, with 1,184 nests, the news release notes. Lido Beach (record of 98 nests in 2014) and Venice (record of 424 in 2012) also have surpassed their previous high marks, the latest data shows. As of July 16, 120 nests had been reported on Lido; on Venice, 493.
The first nest to hatch on Mote-monitored beaches was found Sunday, June 26, on Venice Beach, the news release says.
“Mote’s multi-decade monitoring efforts provide data that resource managers can use to understand and protect sea turtle populations,” the release explains. “Long-term data are particularly important because sea turtles are long-lived species,” it adds. “It takes about 30 years for hatchlings born on our beaches to return to nest as adults.”
“These all-time high records since the inception of Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol 35 years ago signify the need for conservation support. Funding for supplies and operating costs will be in high demand to keep up with the highly successful nesting season,” the release notes.
Among the supplies needed as this season continues are the following:
- Black permanent markers from Sharpie.
- 100-foot, large measuring tapes with non-metal blades.
- Latex gloves, medium size (for excavating hatched nests to document their contents).
- Rubber mallets (for pounding stakes into the sand to mark nests).
- Yellow paint in 5-gallon cans (for painting stakes to mark nests).
- Lubricant such as Freeway or WD-40 (1 gallon cans preferable).
- AAA and AA batteries (for GPS and cameras used to document nests).
- Waterproof field notebooks (Rite in the Rain brand preferred).
- Wire cutters for making and disassembling protective cages.
- Caging material for protecting nests from predators.
- Wooden nest marking stakes: 3/8 inch by 1.5 inches by 48 inches or 3/8 inch by 1.5 inches by 36 inches with point on end.
Mote also offers these tips to keep local beaches turtle-friendly:
- “Female sea turtles and their hatchlings find the water by heading toward the brightest horizon. On a natural beach, the ocean horizon is brighter than the shore. On a developed beach, light from waterfront properties can disorient sea turtles and draw them toward roads, drains, yards, swimming pools and other dangerous locations, exhausting the energy they need for reproduction and survival.”
• If you see sea turtle hatchlings travelling toward land instead of the ocean, please call Mote’s sea turtle program at 941-388-4331 for instructions. The release adds, “If you call after hours, then Mote’s automated message system will let you know what to do. Please listen to it carefully.”