It’s Turtle Nesting Season! Turtle nesting season has officially begun here on Sanibel Island and we’re looking forward to spotting nests, tracking turtle trails and hoping to spot a hatching this year. We coordinated with the Sanibel Sea School to pull together the turtle info you need to know.
About Sea Turtle Nesting
Sea turtle nesting season on Sanibel officially runs from April 15th to October 31st. The most common species that nests on Sanibel is the Loggerhead but we also see Green Turtles and, more rarely, Leatherbacks and Kemp’s Ridleys.
Loggerhead sea turtle eggs usually take around two months to hatch. The sex of a sea turtle hatchling depends on the sand temperature during incubation. Warmer nests produce more females and cooler nests produce more males.
All species of sea turtle that nest on Sanibel are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Most sea turtles nest and hatch at night. After 9:00 pm, the city of Sanibel requires residents and guests to turn off exterior lights, as well as close any curtains or blinds. Any artificial light visible from the beach confuses the turtles, as they rely on the light from the moon to find their way to the sea.
Recent Nesting Activity on Sanibel Island
- Earlier this month, SCCF and Sanibel Sea School identified a Leatherback false crawl. This is when a turtle comes up to the beach but does not lay any eggs. Leatherbacks are very rare on Sanibel Island and this is only the third documented crawl in the history of the conservation program!
- After the excitement of the false crawl, Sanibel got even luckier and a leatherback actually laid a nest. We could not be more excited!
- Not to be outdone by the rare leatherback, a loggerhead came in and broke the record for earliest nesting, laying its nest on April 8, 2020 (beating the old early nest record by more than a week).
- The current nest count on Sanibel and Captiva Islands is three, one leatherback and one loggerhead on Sanibel and one loggerhead on Captiva.
How You Can Help Sea Turtles
- Turn off beachfront lights during sea turtle nesting season.
- Fill in any holes and destroy any structures you might have built.
- Remove beach equipment. These become hazards that can trap nesting adults as well as hatchlings.
- Remove beach litter.
- Do not shine light on hatchlings. The light could prevent them from finding their way.
- Respect protected areas. Leave nesting sites undisturbed.
If you do see a nesting sea turtle, hatchlings or a sea turtle in distress, please call the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Sea Turtle Hotline at (978) 728-3663.
Photos provided by Sanibel Sea School