Sea turtle nesting season has officially come to a close.
The record-breaking season in Sarasota and Manatee counties netted 4,588 nests, beating the 2015 record by 2,103 nests, according to a news release from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. The area monitored by Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program runs from Venice to Longboat Key.
Of the 4,588 nests, sea turtle mothers laid 1,184 on Longboat’s shores. Siesta Key also beats its 2015 record, with 476 nests this year. In 2015, 78 nests hatched in the area.
“Not only was this year record-breaking, but we saw almost twice the amount of nests we saw last year, which is just incredible,” Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program said in the statement. “Turtles take about 30 years to sexually mature and produce eggs, and we hope that one reason we are seeing this increase is because the baby turtles Mote started to protect 30 years ago are now old enough to come back and lay their eggs.”
The final nest was excavated on Dec. 12 on Siesta. Mote staff found one loggerhead sea turtle beginning to emerge from its shell, another fully hatched and other eggs not viable, the release said. One of the hatchlings received short-term care at Mote’s Hatchling Hospital to warm its body and was released on the Key the same evening.