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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jun. 15, 2010 7 years ago

TURTLE WATCH: Turtles continue to make their nests on Longboat

by: Virginia Sanders

The famous line goes, “Summertime and the living is easy … ” It’s not easy, however, if you’re a female sea turtle and you have eggs to lay. First, you have to dig a hole, at least 1-foot-long, with your rear flippers. That’s definitely not easy!

But, easy or not, the females are starting to come in and nest. As of June 5, 33 nests have been staked and recorded so far on Longboat this season. Although this number is less than the number at the same time last year, we could catch up later in the season.

This is why every single set of turtle tracks is investigated and recorded as carefully and as accurately as possible. The tracks in the photo were made on June 5, and, after careful examination, were determined to have been made by a green turtle, which is special, because most of the turtles that nest on our beaches are loggerheads. It was also determined that no nest had been made, so we can only hope that this turtle will try again at another local location. The green turtle is larger than the loggerhead and has a beautiful deep-green color. In 2009, we had eight green turtle nests.

So far, the oil-spill disaster has not reached our shores. However, everyone on turtle patrol will be required to have completed special training relative to patrolling the beach. We will keep you further informed as events present themselves. Meanwhile, please continue to pay attention to the “turtle nesting do’s and don’ts” that can be found at

One of our “don’ts” is to not leave beach chairs near the water’s edge. They need to be pulled way back, out of the way of a turtle seeking to make her nest. This was not done at one location, and the sea turtle that attempted to nest got tangled in a bunch of chairs, and when she finally got free and dropped her eggs, she was not far enough up on the beach. A nest such as this might get washed out. We’ll be on the watch.

Meanwhile, the turtle hospital at Mote continues to be busy. There are currently 17 turtle patients in the hospital: one loggerhead, 10 greens and six Kemp’s ridley. None of these has anything to do with the oil spill, but many other problems were outlined in The Longboat Observer’s May 13 issue. For my next column, I’ll try to bring you up to date on our turtle patients and how they are faring.

Virginia Sanders is the spokesperson for the Longboat Key Turtle Conservation Program, serves on the Citizens Advisory Board of the National Estuary Program and is a Mote Marine volunteer.

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