011 Nesting Season Ends on High Note
The 2011 sea turtle nesting season has been strong from from Longboat Key through Venice, according to Mote's Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of Mote scientists, interns and nearly 300 volunteers who monitor sea turtle nesting each day during nesting season, May 1 through Oct. 31, on 35 miles of local beaches. 

Turtle Patrollers reported 1,291 sea turtle nests in 2011 — the highest total for Mote's area since 2003. Even though a single year can't tell us the overall trend, this year ended on an optimistic note for the most common species on local beaches, loggerhead sea turtles.

Loggerheads laid 1,284 nests during 2011 in Mote's patrol area. Loggerheads are a threatened species whose statewide nesting numbers have generally declined since 1998. Now, Mote's nesting counts for loggerheads seem to be stabilizing. Also, recent research suggests that loggerhead nesting numbers may rise and fall over decade-long cycles.

The endangered green sea turtles that nest occasionally in Sarasota County also showed heathly nest numbers this year — 7 nests in Mote's patrol area and 19 in Sarasota County as a whole. Greens follow an "every other year" pattern with a year of higher nesting counts followed by a year of lower ones. During the last "up" year, 2010, a record 38 green nests were documented in Sarasota County, which fits with positive trends around the state.

The table below shows Mote’s breakdown of 2010 nesting numbers and false crawls (when a turtle emerges but returns to sea without nesting) for each local beach.

Key Species Nests False Crawls(Coming ashore without laying a nest)
Longboat-Manatee Loggerhead 137 153
Longboat-Sarasota Loggerhead
Green
138
0
108
0
Lido Beach Loggerhead 50 37
Siesta Key Loggerhead
Green
138
4
161
4
Casey Key Loggerhead
Green
530
3
718
10
Venice Loggerhead
Green
268 261
1
Totals Loggerhead
Green
1,284
7

1,454
14

Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program has monitored nesting on Sarasota County beaches for more than 30 years. Mote scientists also tag nesting sea turtles for identification and satellite tracking that allows us to follow turtles as they swim hundreds of miles in the sea.

Over the years, Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol has:

Monitored 27,543 sea turtle nests on 35 miles of beach
Documented 24,942 false crawls (adult females that return to sea without nesting)
Protected 5,388 nests from predators
Tagged 4,038 nesting turtles
Protected 2,088,865 turtle eggs
Documented the births of 1,499,946 sea turtle hatchlings

All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered under federal law. Mote’s research provides crucial information to help resource managers protect these ancient reptiles. You can help, too. The following are some tips that you can use to help protect sea turtles.

Do:

If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance
Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October
Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water
Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water
Place trash in its proper place

Do Not:

Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles
Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach
Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water
Use fireworks on the beach

Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff’s department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Program at 388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 988-0212.

2011 Nesting Updates