Dip in number of Southwest Florida turtle nests for 2023 nesting season

Author: Camila Pereira Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida beaches seem jam-packed, with the next generation of sea turtles just waiting to hatch and make their way into the water, but how does our area’s extreme weather affect the marine reptiles?

All summer, we have seen crazy temperatures on land and in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Ian also changed how much light is getting to the beaches.

Summer marks the peak of turtle nesting season in Florida, and in 2023, the Sanibel and Captiva Conservation Foundation recorded 1,148 nests on those beaches.

“We’re having a fantastic nesting season this year for loggerheads, and that’s not just happening on our beaches. It seems like it’s happening statewide, which is a really great sign for loggerheads in our state,” said Kelly Sloan, the SCCF coastal wildlife director.

Although, it’s not the same as what’s happening on Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, Bunche Beach and Big Hickory Island. Turtle Time told WINK News it’s actually experiencing a dip in the number of turtle nest there. They recorded only 2,442 nests in total for the 2023 season.

Sloan told WINK News there could be multiple factors producing these results such as heat, construction, vegetation and…

“Sea turtles do have an interesting nesting strategy where they don’t nest every year. They typically nest every two or three years, and then take a couple years off to regain the energy they need for the nesting season,” said Sloan, “so it’s possible that we’re seeing a lot of those turtles all nesting in the same year, which is causing a big spike.”

Sloan said the hot weather typically causes more female turtles to be born than males. That could have long-term effects on future loggerheads nesting seasons to come.

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