SC Staff Report
The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation reported recent rain and wind from the eventual Tropical Storm Alex two weeks ago resulted in a few losses of sea turtle nests, a plover nest and plover chicks.
The storm dumped about 11 inches of rain in a day-and-a-half on the island. SCCF was monitoring two snowy plover nests and two snowy plover broods with chicks when the storm hit. One of the nests remains active with the birds still incubating. Birds of the lost nest are attempting to re-nest for a third time this season.
The oldest plover chick is alive and well and nearly fledged, but the recently hatched chicks were too vulnerable and did not survive impacts from the storm. SCCF staff and volunteers will be watching for those parents to re-nest.
Five sea turtle nests were lost to an associated surge. SCCF’s turtle team has documented 411 nests as of June 15. They say it’s “on pace with last year’s nest count at this point in the season.”
Mid-to-late June is the peak of season and so many turtles come in at night to nest. SCCF encourages everyone to turn off lights, fill in holes on the beach at the end of the day and remove furniture at night to keep it safe for nesting turtles and shorebirds.
In other wildlife news, SCCF has asked for the public’s help in tracking Terrestrial Turtles by reporting markings. The organization’s freshwater and terrestrial biologists use notching, pit-tags or microchips and photography to positively identify individual turtles.
“The urgency to inventory and gather baseline data on terrestrial and freshwater turtle populations is due to the overwhelming pressure being placed on our turtles for world markets,” said SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz.
Exploitation for the international pet trade, human consumption, and traditional medicines has caused a serious strain on many native species. Notched shells also act as a deterrent against poaching.
If anyone sees a marked, non-marine turtle on the islands, take a photograph of the markings on the shell, note its location and send it to email@example.com or send a text to 239-222-4268. SCCF asks not to post photos with identifying landmarks on social media to protect the secrecy of the turtle’s location. All turtles are protected under the Sanibel Charter and cannot be collected.