Sea Turtle Nesting Season

provided by CROW

Sanibel Island’s white, sandy beaches and natural beauty attracts tourists and residents year round. This time of year, the Sanibel shores attract another group of popular beachgoers from April 15 to October 31- nesting sea turtles.

Nearly 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the United States occurs in Florida. The most common species on Sanibel is the loggerhead sea turtle, but also seen are green sea turtles, and more rarely, leatherbacks and Kemp’s Ridleys. All species of sea turtles found nesting on Sanibel are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Sea turtles, their hatchlings, eggs and nests are included under the protections afforded to them. This means humans need to follow guidelines to ensure sea turtles can lay their eggs undisturbed and the hatchlings have the best chance of making it safely to the water. Most importantly, sea turtles and their nests on the beach need to be left alone. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s sea turtle nesting awareness campaign, ‘Be A Sea Turtle Saver’, outlines simple tips to follow from April through October to provide turtles and hatchlings with a greater chance of survival!

Give them space! In order to help as many hatchlings as possible make it to the ocean, residents and visitors sharing the beach with sea turtles should remain quiet and at a safe distance if observing nesting sea turtles or if you stumble upon them during the evening hours. SCCF’s nest monitors and volunteers will mark and cover sea turtle nesting areas with special screens once the eggs are laid. The general area where nests and eggs are located will be roped off and you should avoid these areas.

Turn the lights off! Sea turtle hatchlings use the light of the moon and stars to find the water; however, artificial lights can often lead them astray. Normally and naturally, the illuminating light from the night sky on the water would be the brightest element guiding the hatchlings to their destination. Turning off or shielding any visible lights from the beach and never using flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach during nesting season helps limit the potential confusion. If necessary, use only approved amber or red LED bulbs!

Keep the beach clean! Filling in holes that could trap turtles, flattening sandcastles, and removing all furniture, gear, and toys at the end of the day will help these babies make it to the water safely and successfully!

Currently, there are two sea turtles reovering at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). An adult female loggerhead sea turtle (#21-980) was admitted on March 17 after being found washed up on the beach near Don Pedro Island covered in barnacles. Upon examination, veterinarians suspected the patient was suffering from brevetoxicosis, also known as red tide poisoning.

On April 6, a juvenile green sea turtle (#21- 1450) was admitted after it was found floating in a canal near Port Charlotte. The sea turtle presented as lethargic and quiet. Radiographs revealed there was excess gas in the digestive tract which veterinarians suspect was likely secondary to red tide poisoning or an infection. Both sea turtles continue to receive supportive care.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (4/5-4/12):
There were 174 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 29 Virginia opossums, 19 eastern cottontails, six eastern screech owls, five blue jays, two bald eagles and two Florida red-bellied cooters. Recent Releases include seven mourning doves, six eastern cottontails, a burrowing owl, a peninsula cooter, and a bald eagle. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases! Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year! Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Comments (1)

  1. Wouldn’t it make sense to have signs at the beach entrances telling people to not leave huge hole and sandcastles on the beach during nesting season. I spend 7 months on Sanibel and am well aware of the need to do this but tourists have no idea. This week alone I must have filled in 20 holes on the beach that I could be buried in let alone turtles.

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