It’s sea turtle hatching season, and one of the most exciting times to be a visitor at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa. If you love nature, baby animals or simply one-of-a-kind experiences, then now is the time to visit.
Baby sea turtles hatch late at night when the moon is bright. And when they are ready, they follow the moonlight and head back to the Gulf of Mexico to join their relatives. This season begins in May and ends in October, but you’ll notice especially right now, the peak of that season and those hatchlings. The SCCF on Sanibel monitors sea turtle nests and so many of these hatchings are controlled and assisted. Over 100 volunteers help with the daily search for tracks that the sea turtle left behind when she emerged from the sea the night before. Not only do they monitor for successful hatchings, but the assist in the protection of these nests to ensure this happens. If you visit our beach, you may see flagged square areas, usually indicating a turtle nest awaiting a hatching.
While it may be difficult to spot loggerhead turtles, you can usually see their tracks, especially in the early morning on the beaches, so keep your eyes open when you are taking that morning walk or out shelling, and you’ll probably encounter some of the tiny turtle tracks heading back to the Gulf.
Common tips to ensuring the best for turtles include:
- Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. This is why ‘Tween Waters asks that you shut off porch lights visible from the beach when not using.
- Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent predators from eating the eggs and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance.
- Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement.
- Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings and nesting sea turtles. Did you build a mote around your sandcastle? Be sure to fill it in!
- Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.
Pick up litter.
- Notify us, or please call the Sea Turtle Hotline: 978-728-3663 if you notice any nest that has not been identified or a hatching in progress.
In 2018, a record number of nests were laid on Sanibel and Captiva for the fifth year in a row. Of the 721 nests laid, it is estimated that over 38,000 sea turtle hatchlings successfully emerged from their nests! Our beaches welcomed 718 loggerhead nests, two green turtle nests, and one famous Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nest. We look forward to another successful sea turtle nesting season and hope to uphold Sanibel’s reputation as having one of the darkest and most “turtle friendly” beaches in the state. Remember, after 9, it’s turtle time!