World Ocean Day & Sea Turtle Nesting on Sanibel Island

DATE: June 8, 2021

Today is World Ocean Day and we thought it was the perfect day to share some important information on the ocean dwellers that visit our Gulf beaches every spring and summer: Sea Turtles!

Megan Reed of the Sanibel & Captiva Conservations Foundation (SCCF) stopped by our newest turtle nest to help educate our guests and visitors on nesting season, turtle safety, and how you can help in the sea turtle preservation mission when you visit.

About Sanibel & Captiva Island Sea Turtle Nesting:

Despite a covid-challenged season, we broke a number of nesting records last year – the earliest crawl ever seen on our beaches (April 1), the most loggerhead nests on Sanibel (656) and Captiva (264) and the most nests for all species combined (931).

For the 2021 season, 296 sea turtle nests have been reported between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. This includes the nest recently laid on Sundial’s beach, in front of the resort center:

sundial sanibel island first turtle nest 2021

Loggerhead Nests – 292

Loggerhead False Crawls – 425

Green Turtle Nests – 4

Green Turtle False Crawls – 5

What are False crawls?

Over 100 volunteers help with the daily search for tracks that the sea turtle left behind when she emerged from the sea the night before. Sometimes sea turtles go back to the water without laying eggs, which is known as a non-nesting emergence or false crawl.

Sundial’s Sea Turtle Nest

Megan Reed is a staff member at Sanibel & Captiva Conservation Foundation. SCCF is one of the entities here on-island that monitor the turtle population and their nests, marked by yellow posts and metal screens.

This specific nest was laid by a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, our most commonly found sea turtle here on Sanibel. Loggerheads come up on the beach almost exclusively at night to lay their nests and lay an average of 100 eggs per nest.

Remember to pick up your trash, fill in any holes you made playing on the beach and bring in any beach furniture you brought out to enjoy the day. This provides a safe space for the turtles to come up and lay their eggs and also allows for a clear path when the time comes for the turtles to hatch.

During the summer months, our turtle nests will begin to hatch. Just like when they are being laid, hatching happens almost exclusively at night, with hatchlings using the moon as their guide to make their way to the water. This is why it is crucial to fill in beach holes, use red/amber light only at night to not confuse the hatchlings and always keep a safe and respectful distance from any wildlife you may encounter.

You might see the SCCF team here during one of your visits, driving their vehicles to do daily checks of the nests. Feel free to say hi and ask them questions. SCCF also has a hotline set up for visitors to reach out when they encounter any turtles or any issues involving a nest. The hotline number is 978-728-3663.

While we hope many of our guests will have to opportunity to see a nest and a lucky few may even witness a live hatching, we do ask that you keep your distance when you see these nests to ensure the safety of the new generation of sea turtles.

Have fun on the beach, stay safe and remain turtle-friendly!

Contributing to Sea Turtle Conservation

Now that the season has officially kicked off and many more nests are sure to follow, it’s time to begin thinking about how our community can help conserve coastal resources on Sanibel and Captiva. As always, please help us in reminding beachgoers to fill in holes, remove furniture and litter, and turn off their lights at night. You can also Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest by donating to SCCF. Find out more about the program.

Sea Turtle Information provided by SCCF.