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Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtle Night Research: Reached 18K Nests!!

As we experience the last few days in July, the greens are still nesting in full force, while the loggerheads are finishing up their last few nests. To date we have surpassed 18,000 nests on our 9.5 miles of beaches, 18,102 to be exact!! Loggerheads account for 12,581 of our nests, followed by greens with 5,334. We even got a late July leatherback nest this week, bringing their total to 186. While its not the latest leatherback nest we have seen in the past, it is still a rare occurrence to get one this late.

Director of Research Justin Perrault (front left), Night Intern Madisen Liebl (front right), and Night Tech Derek Aoki work up a green turtle. (Photo: Heather Seaman)

Week 6 for loggerhead and greens brought a typical lull in activity. Due to the inter-nesting periods of the females, we will normally see a peak of events with lots of nests and crawls, followed by days of few crawls, sometimes half of what we would normally see during a peak. We could also be entering the beginning of the end for loggerhead nests due to their early surge in activity this year. However, this is all speculative as we are unaware of what goes on inside their big heads.

A green turtle in her massive body pit. (Photo: Derek Aoki)

We fully expect the green mamas to peak again! Greens are the last species to nest, therefore are the last to finish. Given that 2019 is a very high green season, don’t be surprised to see them digging their big body pits through the month of August. The night crew of Justin Perrault and Derek Aoki will be sampling them until our target goal is reached, while Data Manager Sarah Hirsch will continue her endarteritis study until the loggerheads bid farewell to 2019.

Green turtles throw so much sand to create their body pit, and on some occasions they will fling sand that stay perched on their heads, creating a little ‘sand cap.’ (Photo: Heather Seaman)
Hatchling season is in full swing, as this loggerhead and leatherback begin life with a dash to the sea. (Photo: Derek Aoki)

Adding to all the adults, we can’t forget about the babies! Nests continue to hatch on a consistent basis and the beaches are full of tiny hatchling tracks. So just remember to watch your step at night, as small clumps of sargassum can look like baby sea turtles.

Thanks for reading as we break a seasonal milestone of 18K nests, and come back next week for our first post of August!

Disclaimer: All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-19-205.