The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that sea turtle nesting season has started slower than 2020 — a record-breaking season — but current nest numbers are steadily climbing toward that record. As of Aug. 11, SCCF’s loggerhead nest count for Sanibel and Captiva was 896, while last year’s was 917.
At the start of season, this year’s numbers closely resembled the 2019 season. In 2021 and 2019, only one loggerhead nest was laid in April, compared to 15 in April 2020. May’s activity totaled 199 nests, compared to 203 nests in May 2019. In July — when nesting starts to pick up on the islands — 283 nests were laid. The total is higher than 186 nests in July 2020 and 218 nests in July 2019. The end of sea turtle nesting season is nearing, but 12 new nests have been documented since August started.
On Aug. 10 at 1:30 p.m., the Senkar family contacted SCCF’s hotline after spotting a loggerhead nesting in the dune. The sea turtle, named Flame Lily, was first seen and tagged on the islands earlier this season. Each season, the SCCF chooses a theme to guide the naming of the nesting females. This year the theme is flowers.
In addition, this season has provided sea turtle monitors with an opportunity to survey Captiva at night while relocating nests from the island to Sanibel in advance of a beach renourishment project. The SCCF reported that a side perk of the project is that monitors are able identify previously tagged turtles that would not have otherwise been seen.
Cookies and Cream, first tagged in 2017, was recently located on Captiva — the 11th sighting. She nested four times in 2019 and three times in 2017. Of the four nests she was observed laying this year, two hatched and were inventoried by SCCF volunteers and staff. One of her nests hatched with a 78 percent hatch success. Another nest was partially washed out during Tropical Storm Elsa and only 55 eggs remained. The nest continued to incubate, and 53 eggs hatched.
To report any issues with nests, nesting turtles or hatchlings, call the SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline at 978-728-3663. For tips on how to safely share the shore with sea turtles, visit SanCapLifeSavers.org