It was a rare sighting. Alyson McCoy, of Oviedo, and staff members from Island House Motel, on Casey Key, watched as a female turtle came ashore during the day Saturday, April 25, and laid her nest on Casey Key beach.
“I’ve seen loggerhead turtles nest before on New Smyrna Beach, but I’ve never seen one by accident and never in broad daylight,” McCoy said.
McCoy sent photos of the turtle to Mote Marine Laboratory, and Mote staff members confirmed it was a Kemp’s ridley turtle, which are smaller, flatter and grayer in color than loggerheads.
The nest, which marks the first of the turtle-nesting season in Sarasota County, is only the third Kemp’s ridley nest to be laid and verified in Sarasota County.
Tony Tucker, manager of Mote’s sea-turtle conservation and research program, said the state only recorded 13 Kemp’s ridley nests in 2008. This turtle species usually nests on the beaches of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Padre Island National Seashore, Texas.
“It’s exciting to have a Kemp’s ridley turn up in our county,” Tucker said.
The nest will be monitored daily by Mote’s sea-turtle conservation and research program, which monitors 35 miles of Sarasota County beach.
Sea-turtle nesting season runs from May 1 to October 31.
Information courtesy of Mote Marine Laboratory, www.mote.org.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles
— The smallest of all living sea turtles, with an adult weighing about 100 pounds.
— Females lay two to three clutches of eggs, which have 100 eggs each. The eggs incubate for 50 to 60 days.
— Hatchlings measure about 1.5 inches and weigh about half an ounce.
— Almost 95% of Kemp’s ridley nesting occurs in Tamaulipas, Mexico.
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