Volusia County Environmental Management Sea Turtle Management Program

December 5, 2011

2011 sea turtle nesting season officially ended on October 31, 2011

In 2011, a total of 522 nests were laid on County beaches. 511 of those have hatched, or have been evaluated for reproductive success and are off the beach. 2 nests are remaining and are still incubating in the sand until they hatch or until they are evaluated. Despite the official end of the season, these nests will continue to be monitored daily. Sea turtle egg development is dependent on temperature. The warmer the environment, the quicker they develop. The two nests that remain are likely going to hatch, but the development period has been extended well beyond the typical time period due to the lower fall temperatures.

loggerhead turtleThe Loggerhead nest count for the season is 488 nests. We also have a record high count of 13 Leatherback nests and 21 Green sea turtle nests on County managed beaches this year.

These numbers do not include Canaveral National Seashore, just to our south, or North Peninsula State recreation area beaches, to the north, which can have nest counts in the thousands (instead of hundreds)!

Officially, the season for all sea turtle species to nest in our area runs May 1 through Oct. 31. Each summer on Volusia County beaches, sea turtles will slowly start to lay nests starting in May. Approximately 48-60 days after the first nest is laid, usually in late June or July, the first nests laid in the season will begin to hatch and the hatching continues into October. The last nests are usually laid in late August. Occasionally we’ll get a nest laid in Sept. which will hatch in October or November.

Tropical Tinting is  is the premier window tinting provider for Volusia and Flagler Counties and is compliant with the Volusia County Sea Turtle Protection Beach Ordinance. Please call us today at: (386) 756-6155 for your FREE ESTIMATE and more information about our high-quality window tinting services.

How did our sea turtle nests do in 2011?

sea turtle babyThe survey teams mark new nests after they are laid and check nests that are due to hatch for hatchling tracks every morning. A few days after observing the first set of emergent tracks, the nest is excavated to collect information about its success. The teams count egg shells to see how many eggs hatched naturally and release any trapped hatchlings that are found in the nest.

Any other factors, that may have affected the nest such as tidal inundation, storm-water runoff, or predation by foxes, raccoons, and crabs is also recorded.

All this information is used to get a better picture of what circumstances may be influencing nesting success on our beaches.

To date, 520 sea turtle nests have been evaluated for reproductive success! Of these nests, 33 nests were depredated by fox or raccoons, and 11 were scavenged by a raccoon or foxes after it hatched. The contents of these nests are not able to be accurately counted. 68 nests were washed out or tidally inundated for a long period of time (mostly during the Hurricane Irene high tides), making them completely unsuccessful. 15 clutches could not be located and those eggs were not counted. The remaining 393 nests contained the below contents. Over 32,000 hatched sea turtle eggs counted!!!!!


Volusia County General Loggerhead Sea Turtle Information

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting Season starts May 1st in Volusia County, officially, and the number of nests has been declining steadily primarily because of threats to the habitat.

girl saves baby loggerheadJennifer Winters, from the Volusia County Sea Turtle Program, said that nests are “Being lost to erosion and development. People uses deter them from using our beaches for nesting, as well as off-shore threats, such as fishing and even hunting in some countries.”
She added beachfront lighting for area homes and hotels as a major deterrent to nesting, and continued, “Mamas won’t come up if it’s too bright on the beach,” Winters said. “Babies will go toward the light rather than the turtle.

So, more than a decade ago, the county enacted a lighting ordinance to protect the creatures.”

The nesting season runs May 1 – Oct. 31. The Marine Science Center is always hopeful for a good year. The mothers come up the beach, bury the eggs in the sand, and the hatchlings – several weeks later – run back to the water. If you see a nest, or turtle/hatchlings in trouble, call the Volusia County Beach Patrol. Don’t try to help them yourself.

Here are some interesting facts on the loggerhead turtle:

1) The lungs of the loggerhead sea turtle are adapted to permit a rapid exchange of oxygen and to prevent gasses from being trapped during deep dives. The blood of sea turtles can deliver oxygen efficiently to body tissues even at the pressures encountered during diving. During routine activity a loggerhead sea turtle dives for about 4 to 5 minutes and surfaces to breathe for 1 to 3 seconds. Sea turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time.

2) The loggerhead turtle is known for its large head and horny beak. It also has large jaws and powerful muscles. Most loggerhead sea turtles have a reddish brown carapace and a pale yellow plastron (bottom shell).

3) The temperature of the nest determines whether the eggs will produce males or females. A cooler nest, below 82.5°F (28°C), will produce more males, and a warmer nest, above 85.1°F (29.5°C), will result in more females. If the nest temperature stays in between, there will be a more balanced number of males and females.

Hopefully we will be host this year and many years to come for thousands of nesting loggerhead turtles. Volusia County truly is a wondrous place to live for all of us!


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