Tropical Storm Hermine affected most of the sea turtle nests remaining on Longboat Key through Venice during late August and early September, Mote Marine Laboratory scientists report. Fortunately, the area has hosted a record number of nests this year, and the majority hatched before the storm.

Of the record 4,447 nests laid so far this year on Mote-monitored beaches — Longboat Key through Venice — 1,700 had yet to hatch before the storm. Of those:

  • 686 nests were deemed “total washouts,” unlikely to produce any hatchlings. Of those total washouts, 111 were on Longboat Key, 43 on Lido Key, 94 on Siesta Key, 370 on Casey Key and 68 on Venice.
  • 66 nests were observed in standing water, meaning they are unlikely to produce any hatchlings.
  • 400 nests experienced accretion — more sand piled on top. Many accreted nests have a chance to hatch if the water drains from the sand.

Some nests were declared total washouts because all of their marking stakes were washed away and the nests could not be found. This means some areas with no marking stakes might harbor hidden, viable nests.

“The bottom line is: We lost some nests to nature, and yet we may have hatches from areas without stakes, so we encourage everyone visiting, working or living along our beaches to be on the lookout and continue to be turtle-friendly until the end of nesting season, Oct. 31, even if you see few or no marked nests in your area,” said Kristen Mazzarella, Senior Biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.

Despite storm impacts, 2016 has been a highly productive year for sea turtle nesting in Mote’s area: The 4,447 nests laid to-date are the most ever recorded in Mote’s 35-year history of sea turtle conservation on Longboat Key through Venice. In addition, sea turtles’ nesting patterns compensate for some storm impacts.

“Sea turtles have nested in areas with strong storms for millennia,” Mazzarella said. “Each turtle normally lays several nests per season, spread out in time. This maximizes their chance to produce a successful hatch.”

As of Mote’s latest weekly update on Sept. 17, nesting has slowed down as it normally does in late summer. Just a couple of new nests were laid locally during the past two weeks. Visit for weekly numbers of new nests. Mote scientists expect to share final nest counts after the season ends on Oct. 31. Hatching continues.

Turtle friendly tips on the beach


  • 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.

If you find sea turtle hatchlings that are not on the beach or are headed away from the ocean, call Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program for instructions: 941-388-4331. Put rescued hatchlings into a bucket with a layer of damp sand and cover the bucket with a towel. Do not put hatchlings in water or take them into air conditioning. Hatchlings heading towards the ocean should be left alone. Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty.

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.

Emergency contacts

If you see a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle in Sarasota or Manatee county waters, contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 888-345-2335. Outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

If you suspect that someone is tampering with a sea turtle nest, harassing a sea turtle or has possession of a sea turtle or any of its parts, please call FWC, call your local sheriff’s department and/or call Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at 941-388-4331.