Turtles are nesting away for the season at Gumbo Limbo
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is actively marking sea turtle nests across beaches in Boca Raton from now until October.
Sea turtle nesting season begins March 1 and lasts until Oct 31. Each morning for six months, turtle conservationists will check the beaches for potential tracks. Once a nest is located, it is marked off so that civilians or other animals will not harm them.
“We have marine specialists out every morning from dawn until around 9 a.m.,” says David Anderson, head of marine conservation. “We then log the information about the nests in our iPads and track when the nests will hatch.”
Two months after the nest is laid, the eggs will hatch. Hatching typically happens at night and the sea turtles will follow the moonlight into the ocean. A few days later, marine specialists will excavate the nests.
So far this year, over 700 nests have been laid across the beaches. However, this year’s number is lower than the previous year.
“We don’t have the same number of recorded nests every year,” says Anderson. “It has nothing to do with hurricane season or even the amount of people on the beach. It really just depends on the year.”
Last year, 901 nests were laid and 2019 was a record year with over 1,300 nests. Even though nesting season is well underway, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center expects more nests to be laid and hatched throughout the rest of the season.
“The leatherback turtles typically start laying in March and April,” says Anderson. “Most of our turtles that lay eggs are loggerheads and the rest are green turtles.”
So far this season 21 leatherbacks, 608 loggerheads and 116 green turtles have laid eggs. More nests are expected to be detected throughout the remainder of the season.
“If you happen to see a sea turtle nesting, do not approach them and make sure to distance yourself from the turtle,” says Anderson. “Continue to watch and then call the nature center so that we can mark the nest.”
With three month left of nesting season, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center can expect more hatchlings to make their way into the ocean.
For more information and to track the 2021 nest totals, visit www.gumbolimbo.org.