Record loggerhead sea turtle nests in 2023; hurricanes remain persistent obstacle

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Florida broke a new record for loggerhead sea turtle nests with more than 133,000 in 2023.

However, Hurricane Idalia put a dent in the numbers across the Gulf Coast, leaving eggs scattered on the beach and nests washed out.

Sanibel saw 62 nests completely lost to Hurricane Idalia with only 27 remaining. There were reports of sea turtle egg shells broken and scattered across beaches on Manasota Key.

Charlotte County environmental specialist Susie Derheimer told WINK News they lost 15-20% of nests across their beaches.

“After the storm, we had a large amount of beach impact and erosion on our beaches, so it, unfortunately, the nests that were left on the beach did not fare very well. We lost a lot of sand depth, and we also, in other areas, gained a lot of sand, so the nests were either washed out or inundated with sand,” said Derheimer.

Don Pedro is one of those Charlotte County beaches, and they have their own turtle patrol.

“Out of their total 716 nests, they lost around 150, which is about 20% of the nest,” said Derheimer.

Collier County’s lead sea turtle biologist, Baura Krause, told WINK News, that every beach saw losses.

While the fact Hurricane Idalia took out more nests and hit earlier in the turtle nesting season, Hurricane Ian impacted more nests overall. Krause said the protective vegetation Hurricane Ian removed, which blocked inland light, will disorient hatchlings for years to come.

If you see a sea turtle, give it space, don’t bring artificial light on the beach, and fill in any holes before you leave.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.