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All You Need to Know About Sea Turtle Nesting Season! by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Sea turtle nesting season extends from May 1st through Oct. 31st. Beginning each April, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium patrols a 26 mile stretch of beach throughout Pinellas County. Their morning patrols reach the beach just before sunrise 7 days a week. Initially, the teams of nearly 175 volunteers, staff and interns search along the high tide line for evidence of sea turtle nesting activity namely, marks in the sand left by crawling females. Once tracks are located, the teams determine whether there is a nest present or if it was a non-nesting emergence, AKA false crawl. The nests are marked and data is collected from each site such as distance from high tide line, distance from beach vegetation, GPS coordinates and other measurements used to help locate the egg chamber. As incubation times range between 50 and 60 days, the CMA team begin to look for hatching activity 45 days after the first nest discovery. Hatching activity is identified by tracks emerging from the nest sites. They also extend their beach patrol coverage throughout the night to monitor nests and release

hatchling as soon as they emerge. Due to the dense population of Pinellas County, there are significant issues with artificial lighting causing hatchling disorientation events. To help hatchlings in areas with problem lighting, the workers use restraining cages to keep the hatchlings from wandering off in the wrong direction. After a nest has hatched the team will wait at least 72 hours then excavate the nest and do an inventory of its contents to determine hatching success. Generally the first nest of the season is found in early to mid May and the females will continue nesting until the middle of August. Primarily, the CMA teems encounter loggerheads nesting on our beaches but on rare occasions have encountered Kemp’s ridleys or green sea turtles. The CMA annual nesting data is reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Pinellas County. This includes information on false crawls, disorientation events, obstruction events, predation and vandalism. Also included are

How You Can Help Turn Lights Out Turn out unnecessary beach lights to help prevent disorientation of female sea turtles and hatchlings. Close your curtains and be mindful of bright lights shining on the beach. Keep it dark! weekly escarpment surveys, lighting surveys and weather data. • Loggerhead sea turtles were the only species to emerge onto the beaches patrolled last season. • There were a total of 201 nests. • 6,034 hatchlings were successfully released. • 75 nests were negatively affected by severe storm events last year. • 5 nests were moved because eggs within the nests were washing out to sea. 3 of those 5 nests hatched (which is pretty incredible, because these moved eggs do not normally hatch)! • 16 hatchlings were released at the Sargassum weed line, 94 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico after rehabilitation at CMA.

Remove Obstacles Knock down sand castles and fill in sand pits. This helps to eliminate the challenges the baby hatchlings must cross on their way to the shoreline. Sand pits can be like the Grand Canyon and sand castles like Mount Everest to tiny baby sea turtles. Clear the way!

Keep the Beach Clean Picking up trash eliminates items that both hatchlings and adults may become entangled in. Something as small as a bottle top or as large as unwanted beach furniture can pose potential problems, leading to both false crawls and disorientation. Keep it clean!

LET THE IMAGINATION GROW 7 WEEKS OF CAMP, JUNE 13 - JULY 29, AGES 6-14 Castles & Dragons, Comics & Clay-Mation, Mosaics, Pottery, Printmaking & Journaling, Digital Photography and more!


VISIT Scholarships Available, Sponsored by

The Rotary Club of Indian Rocks Beach


22 • June 2016


Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

Gulf Coast Family - June 2016  

Gulf Coast Family's primary purpose is to encourage families along the Gulf Coast by providing worthwhile information that deals with family...

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