May 1 official start of sea turtle nesting season

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Sea Turtle Monitor and Protection Program

  • Through patrolling beaches, marking nests, tagging turtles, counting hatched eggs and educating the community, the Conservancy’s team of biologists and interns work to protect and monitor the success of loggerhead sea turtle nests.
  • Conservancy began the Florida Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program in 1982
  • Now, in its 37th year, (2019) the program has saved more than 285,000 hatchlings.
  • The Conservancy’s work on Keewaydin Island is one of the longest-running loggerhead turtle monitoring and research projects in the country.

Interesting Loggerhead Facts

“The southern coast of Florida is one of only two epicenters in the world where loggerheads come to nest. It is our responsibility to protect this incredible species.”
— Conservancy Biologist Dave Addison
  • There are only two epicenters in the world where loggerheads nest. One is here, on Florida beaches (mostly in South Florida). The other is in the Middle East.
  • Only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survives to adulthood.
  • Conservancy scientists have saved 265,000 hatchlings
  • Loggerheads ‘remember’ where they hatched. After about 25 years, when it is her time to nest, female loggerheads will return to the same beaches where they were hatched. This phenomenon is known as imprinting. (Imprinting is returning to the natal beach nest.)
  • Loggerheads are named for their relatively large heads and powerful jaws.

Loggerhead 101 Sea Turtle Facts:

Scientific Name: Caretta caretta

Adult Length: 3 feet

Weight: 250–300 lbs.

Lifespan: Greater than 50 years

Nesting season: May 1– October 31.

Habitat: Widely distributed throughout temperate and tropical regions of the ocean. Here in Florida, sea turtles forage in sea grass beds, rocky patches and reef areas, just like you can see in the Conservancy’s 6,000 gallon Patch Reef Aquarium inside the Dalton Discovery Center.

Diet: Primarily carnivorous- eating fish, crustaceans, jellyfish, and occasionally sea grass and algae.

Protection Status: Threatened in Florida, Endangered in other parts of the world

Threats: As hatchlings, sea turtles face several natural predators, but as adults their only predators are sharks and humans. Human threats include habitat loss, poaching, pollution, litter (such as plastic bags), commercial fishing, and boat collisions.

How you can help:

What you can do

Hatchlings follow the lightest part of the horizon (reflected light over the water) which is how they find their way from the nest to the water.

  • Turn of lights at beaches during nesting season
  • Don’t touch the animals
  • Clean up our beaches (turtles will eat and can choke on litter)
  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags,
  • support fisheries that use turtle safe devices on their nets,
  • slow-down in designated channel zones
  • Donate to the Conservancy’s sea turtle protection work at www.conservancy.org/seaturtles

Learn more about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida work with loggerhead sea turtles here: https://www.conservancy.org/our-work/science/wildlife/loggerheads.

you can also read about our Kemp’s ridley sea turtle work here: https://www.conservancy.org/our-work/science/wildlife/kemps-ridley