Leatherback nesting season begins in Juno Beach
Sea turtle nesting season officially began in Juno Beach on March 1st. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) biologists are permitted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to survey the beaches from Tequesta to Jupiter Island every morning during nesting season, from March 1 to October 31. For the past 23 years, the team has counted crawls and nests, and documented hatch success for the three species of sea turtles (leatherbacks, loggerheads and green turtles) that nest on local beaches. The research team at Loggerhead Marinelife Center is looking forward to a busy and successful nesting season this year.
As of March 13, LMC biologists discovered two leatherback nests within the 9.5 miles of beach from Juno Beach to Jupiter Island that the center officially monitors. Leatherbacks, the largest living sea turtles, are typically six to eight feet in length and weigh approximately 1,200 to 1,500 pounds. They are the first species of sea turtles to begin nesting on local beaches. Loggerhead sea turtles will begin nesting in May, with green sea turtles following shortly after.
“The best parts about the beach area we survey is that it hosts some of the highest density nesting in the United States, we get three species, and we are at the US epicenter for leatherback sea turtle nesting,” said Sarah Hirsch, LMC Data Manager. “We can learn so much from this important nesting population and are thrilled to continue research on these intriguing animals,” she added.
Sea turtle hatchlings face a difficult journey to adulthood, with many natural and human-based threats standing in their way. Only one in every 5,000 hatchlings survives to adulthood. Their survival today is also threatened by human activity. Disturbances of nesting beaches jeopardize the sea turtles’ survival, including development, beach lighting, sea walls, jetties, erosion control structures and nighttime activity on the beach. The good news is that everyone can make a difference by familiarizing themselves with nesting season do’s and don’ts and participating in worldwide Lights Out campaigns, which urge people to adopt a lights out policy near the beach during nesting season.
- Throw away debris left behind on the beach
- Fill in holes in the sand, knock down sand castles, and remove foreign objects which may obstruct a sea turtle’s path to and from the ocean
- Observe a nesting sea turtle from a distance from behind
- Look out for disoriented hatchlings on trails and roads near the beach
- Keep your Lights Out near the beach and where needed install sea turtle-friendly lighting
- Bring weak or confused hatchlings to LMC, 24 hours a day, at 14200 US Highway One, Juno Beach, FL 33408
- Don’t interact with or disrupt a nesting sea turtle
- Don’t use lighting on the beach at night including flashlights, lanterns, flash photography and cell phones
- Don’t touch hatchlings on their way to the ocean
- Don’t take touch empty egg shells, or exposed, un-hatched eggs
- Don’t harm or harass sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings
- Don’t use shovels to dig on the beach during nesting season
While sea turtles are beautiful, captivating creatures, it is illegal to harm or harass them, their nests or hatchlings. Sea turtles are protected by the US Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida Statute Chapter 370. For more information regarding sea turtle nesting, please refer to our website at www.marinelife.org.