provided to Santiva Chronicle
With three nests still to hatch, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Kelly Sloane was elated to report on a surprising, comeback season with a record number of hatchlings at the End of Season event on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Bailey Homestead for volunteers, staff and interns.
“We all really needed it after last year’s red tide. It shows how resilient sea turtles are. And, how resilient our volunteers are…we didn’t lose a single volunteer,” said Sloane. “It was my favorite season yet.”
About 100 volunteers assist in monitoring the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva from May to October at daybreak, looking for signs of crawls, nests and hatchings.
With no storms causing nest damage, a total of 48,886 hatchlings broke a previous record of 41,498 in 2017. The total number of Loggerhead sea turtle nests on Sanibel was 625 – coming close to the 2017 record of 649. On Captiva, a total of 193 Loggerhead nests just missed tying the 2017 record of 194 nests.
A total of 32 Green sea turtle nests wasn’t a record, but was a really good year, said Sloane. Keeping track of all the turtle activity wouldn’t be possible without volunteers.
“The success of our program and the strength of our conservation efforts are directly tied to our volunteers. We couldn’t do it without them. Their passion, hard work, and positive attitudes are truly inspiring,” said Sloan.
At the season kick-off party in April, SCCF staff asked volunteers to guess how many nests they thought would be laid on the islands. At the End of Season party, staff announced that volunteer Stephanie Plein guessed 843 and was only seven off of the final count of 850 nests.
Here are the 2019 nest numbers:
Loggerhead Nests Green Nests Total
East End of Sanibel 146 5 151
West End of Sanibel 479 25 504
Captiva Island 193 2 195
Total 818 32 850
Go to http://www.sccf.org/our-work/sea-turtles to learn how to adopt a sea turtle nest or sign up to volunteer.