Aug. 31 Update: Nesting Concludes After Breaking 31-year Record
Sea turtle nesting has concluded on beaches from Longboat Key through Venice, where nest numbers broke a 31-year record this summer, according to Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. Nests are now hatching, so it is important to keep local beaches clear for hatchlings trying to reach the sea.

A total 2,462 loggerhead sea turtle nests and seven of the more rare green sea turtle nests have been documented this year by Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and more than 300 volunteers who monitor 35 miles of local nesting beaches each day of nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31. 

This exciting season has also brought significant challenges: Tropical Storm Debby destroyed more than 920 nests, washed away the yellow stakes used to mark many nests and depleted Mote’s supplies used to document and protect nests on local beaches. Read more about this and learn how you can help.

The table below provides a breakdown of nest numbers by beach. Totals were finalized Nov. 1, 2012.

Key Species Nests False Crawls(Coming ashore without laying a nest)
Longboat-Manatee Loggerhead 274 221
Longboat-Sarasota Loggerhead
Lido Beach Loggerhead 83 75
Siesta Key Loggerhead
Casey Key Loggerhead
Venice Loggerhead
Totals Loggerhead

2012 has been a notable year for loggerhead sea turtles — a threatened species whose statewide nesting numbers have generally declined since 1998, but since 2007 have seemed to be stabilizing on Florida beaches, including Mote’s patrol area.

Loggerhead nesting in Florida has gone through periods of increase and decrease lasting about a decade each — patterns that seem to be influenced by the North Atlantic Oscillation, a naturally occurring climate phenomenon that causes broad-scale weather and ocean patterns in the North Atlantic. 

Even with long-term climate patterns at work, it is important to note that human activities strongly affect sea turtle nesting and survival. All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered and are protected by state and federal laws.

How to Help 
Support sea turtle conservation. Mote scientists are seeking donations of supplies and funding to help support our Sea Turtle Patrol activities for the remainder of the 2012 nesting season and to prepare for 2013.

See a list of supplies needed and ways to help in our July story at: To make a donation, visit (select “Research at Mote Marine Laboratory" and type “sea turtle research” in the comments box below).  To make an in-kind donation of supplies, please contact Kathy Klingensmith at 941-388-4441, ext. 308 or
Mote researchers especially need more welded wire for cages used to protect nests from predators. Rolls should be 3-4 feet wide by 50 feet or longer and should be made of 14-gauge wire with 2-by-4-inch mesh.

Keep beaches clear for sea turtle hatchlings. Even though nest numbers have been high this year, it remains uncertain how many will hatch successfully, especially given the impact of this year’s tropical weather. It is important to keep beaches turtle-friendly for hatchlings trying to reach the sea.

Mote encourages coastal residents and visitors to follow these turtle-friendly tips:

If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, 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
Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water

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 888-345-2335.

Mote research provides crucial information to help resource managers protect sea turtles.Over the years, Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program 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

2012 Nesting Updates