August 6, 2019 — Sarasota, FL — Sea turtle nesting season is not yet over, but Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) has already recorded a 38-year-record number of nests in the Sarasota area. STCRP monitors sea turtle nesting on the 35-mile stretch of beaches from Longboat Key through Venice.

As of August 4, Mote’s STCRP has documented a total of 5,063 nests across all sea turtle species – 4,888 loggerhead nests, 170 green turtle nests and five other nests. As female sea turtles nest every two to three years, many of them are expected to be returners from 2016, the previous total nest record, which had a total count of 4,588 nests. For the first time in the program’s history, there are at least two green sea turtle nests on every key/region in Mote’s area of monitoring. More records are included below.

In addition to record nesting numbers, STCRP has also been busy tagging a record number of nesting females. The team applies flipper tags and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags (similar to a pet microchip) to nesting females, allowing researchers to estimate the number of individual females nesting on local beaches. As of July 31, STCRP tagged 468 turtles, compared to 2016’s record of 451 turtles tagged. The team also logged a record number of turtle encounters, 719. For each encounter, the team records the individual, date, location and what the female is doing during the encounter.

The increase in green sea turtle nesting this year has also presented researchers the opportunity to learn more about this threatened species through satellite tagging. STCRP applied satellite transmitters to seven green sea turtle females this past year, more than ever before, which the public can follow at Now through August 9, members of the public can participate in a naming contest for one of the satellite-tagged turtles.

Mote’s long-term tagging and nesting data are crucial for determining estimates and trends for sea turtle populations in our area, and can answer important questions such as how well local nesting females survive year to year, how often females return to a specific site, how far apart a female spreads her nests, and how many turtles enter the nesting population each year. These kinds of questions contribute to our understanding of the biology and ecology of female turtles, specifically, how aging and environmental conditions affect individual reproductive success, and help inform state and federal policy makers with the best possible data.

Mote’s STCRP sea turtle monitoring and research is conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits 027, 054, 070, 048, 028, and 155.

Key Records:

 New Record in  2019  New Record Number  Previous Record Year  Previous Record Number
 Total nests  5,063  2016  4,588
 Total tagged turtles  468  2016  451
 Total turtle encounters  719  2016  695
 Loggerhead nests  4,888  2016  4,578
 Green nests  170  2017  79
 Green nest on every key/region in Mote’s area  At least 2 green nests on each key: Longboat, Lido, Siesta, Casey, Venice  n/a  n/a
 Longboat Key nests  1,298 loggerhead 2017  1,260 loggerhead
 28 green  2017  17
 Lido Key nests  2 green  n/a  0
 Siesta Key nests  691 loggerhead  2017  632 loggerhead
 Casey Key nests  2,164 loggerhead  2016  2,104
 128 green  2017  54 green
 Venice nests  640 loggerhead  2016  636 loggerhead
 Tagged greens  37  2017  13
 Tagged leatherbacks  1  n/a  0
 Green encounters  80  2017  27
 Leatherback encounters  2  n/a  0
 Satellite-tagged green turtles   7  Mote has only satellite-tagged 3 green turtles total in the history of the program, one in each year: 2007, 2009, 2018


More about Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program: 

Mote scientists and trained volunteers, who work under a state-issued Marine Turtle Permit, diligently mark and monitor nests while patrolling the 35-mile stretch of beaches each day of nesting season, starting April 15th. During peak nesting months, the program also tags turtles with flipper and PIT tags to collect data on individual nesting turtles on Casey Key, the densest nesting beach in the Mote-patrolled area. The data collected from both of these projects help scientists have a more detailed understanding on the management and conservation of sea turtles in Florida and the region.

STCRP has also tagged sea turtles with satellite transmitters since 2005, allowing scientists to learn more about the nesting and traveling behavior of individual sea turtles. The data collected include information on where they travel to forage (feed) after nesting season ends.

Learn more about the conservation and research efforts of STCRP at


Tips to keep sea turtles safe:

On the nesting beaches, artificial light from waterfront properties or people with flashlights or cell phone lights can disorient nesting female turtles and their young, which emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea. Along with lights, beach furniture, holes, trash and other obstacles can impede sea turtles and hatchlings. Mote encourages coastal residents and visitors to follow the turtle-friendly tips listed below during official nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31.

On the Shore


  • 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

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

On the Water

  • Follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles and other large marine life.
  • Be sure to stow trash and line when under way. Marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can become ingested by or entangled around marine life.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to better see marine life in your path.