Good News Sea Turtle Report from Florida Gulf Coast

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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Deposits Eggs on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Turtle Journal received a sea turtle report from our colleagues in Southwest Florida this weekend, and we’re excited to share this good news durng a year that has witnessed unrelenting bad news about the Gulf environment and sea turtles.  We thank our friend, Ranger Randy Sarton of the Ritz Carlton in Naples, for thinking about his chilly turtle comrades up here in the Great White North as we patrol Cape Cod’s frigid beaches for sea turtles during our fall-winter stranding season.

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Cold-Stunned Loggerhead on Vanderbilt Beach in February

Speaking of cold-stunning, Turtle Journal remembers that only last winter (2010), thousands of Florida sea turtles were caught in a miserable cold snap that sent them into hyp0thermic stupor.  This event called on naturalists, environmentalists, conservationists, scientists, researchers and willing volunteers to find these precious animals tossed randomly along Florida’s wide-spread gulf and ocean beaches.  In fact, Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse contributed her share when she discovered this cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtle on Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, Florida in February 2010.

Of course we all remember that the Gulf Coast experienced an unprecedented ecological tragedy with the drilling platform explosion and leak this past year.  The effects of this disaster on sea turtle populations will not be fully measured for a generation.  Not only were mature, breeding animals affected, but oil drenched sargassum, which provides early nursery habitat for the most endangered sea turtle hatchlings in the world, was burned to remove oil residue from the sea.


Ranger Randy Sarton of Ritz Carlton’s Nature’s Wonders

Ranger Randy (Sarton) leads the Ritz Carlton’s Nature’s Wonders, one of Turtle Journal’s favorite stops whenever we visit the Southwest Coast of Florida.  Spending time in Nature’s Wonders and joining Ranger Randy for one of his many entertaining and informative programs makes a stay at the Ritz Carlton that much more pleasurable.  Once the stranding season ends here on Cape Cod, and the snows begin to pile into the Northeast from massive Arctic cold fronts, you can bet that Turtle Journal will be scanning Expedia for airline tickets to Southwest Florida.

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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Crawl and Nest

Randy reports that for the 2010 sea turtle nesting season in Collier County, they had 765 nests compared to 510 last year (2009).  That’s a 50% increase in sea turtle nests in Collier county!


2010 Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest on Ritz Carlton Beach

On Vanderbilt Beach, where Randy’s Ritz Carlton is located, he reports 111 sea turtle nests this year compared to only 60 last year (2009), which includes this wonderful nest pictured above directly in front of the Ritz Carlton.  (See Loggerhead Nest at Naples Ritz-Carlton Hotel.)  That’s an 85% year to year increase!  In addition to the nests, Randy reports 88 false crawls (abortive nesting runs) in 2010 against only 67 discovered in 2009.

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Loggerhead Hatchlings Emerge

The end product of all the fantastic work that the Collier County team invests in saving sea turtles is when tiny hatchlings emerge and scramble towards the brightest horizon, which is either the gulf or the closest fast food restaurant.  Thankfully, the Florida lights-out policy augmented by a lot of help from dedicated volunteers ensures that most of Florida’s sea turtle hatchlings catch the evening tide rather than a burger and fries.

Juvenile Loggerhead Female in SW Florida Conservancy

We couldn’t resist closing this post with an edited video clip from the Conservancy of SW Florida from last February.  The film shows an exquisite young juvenile loggerhead in rehab at the conservancy and reminds us of what all this saving the world, one turtle at a time really means.

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